Goldilocks and the Water Bears:The Search for Life in the Universe by Louisa Preston
Synopsis: ‘An expert romp through the science of extraterrestrial life.’ Adam Rutherford
Today we know of only a single planet that hosts life: the Earth. But across a Universe of at least 100 billion possibly habitable worlds, surely our planet isn’t the only one that is just right for life? As Goldilocks was searching for the perfect bowl of porridge, Astrobiologists are searching for conditions throughout the Universe that are just right for life as we currently know it to exist.
With the Earth as our guide the search has begun for similar worlds sitting at the perfect distance from their Sun – within the aptly named Goldilocks Zone – that would enable them to keep water as a liquid on their surface and therefore support a thriving biosphere. In just over four billion years, life on Earth has evolved from a single-celled organism to an upright humanoid with the capacity to understand its place in the Universe and undertake missions to other worlds searching for a biological neighbour.
What might life look like on these other worlds? It is possible to make best-guesses using facts rooted in biology, physics and chemistry, and by studying ‘extremophiles’ on Earth, organisms such as the near-indestructible water bears that can survive in the harshest conditions that Earth, and even space, can offer. Goldilocks and the Water Bears is a tale of the origins and evolution of life, and the quest to find it on other planets, on moons, in other galaxies, and throughout the Universe.
Published: June 2016 | ISBN: 9781472920096
“Louisa is that rare breed – a brilliant academic who can effortlessly communicate her subject with clarity, authority and warmth to us all. A fascinating overview of what is simply the most profound and exciting story in science.” – Dallas Campbell, science broadcaster and television presenter
“Just the right book to expertly guide you through the scientific quest to answer the ultimate question; are we along in the University?” – Lucie Green, space scientist, television presenter and author of 15 Million Degrees
“Our species has gone from fantasising about life on other worlds to actively looking for it – this book provides great background on clues scientists are using, and what makes the chase so exciting.” – Bobak Ferdowsi, Flight Director, Mars Science Laboratory
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