Planet Hunters: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life (Hardback)
  • Planet Hunters: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life (Hardback)
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Planet Hunters: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life (Hardback)

(author), (translator)
£16.95
Hardback 248 Pages / Published: 01/08/2017
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Astronomers are on the verge of answering one of the most profound questions ever asked: are we alone in the universe? The ability to detect life in remote solar systems is at last within sight. Its discovery, even if only in microbial form, would revolutionize our self-image. Planet Hunters tells a delightful tale of smart-alec nerds, the search for extraterrestrial life and the history of an academic discipline. Professional astronomer Lucas Ellerbroek takes readers on a fantastic voyage through space, time, history and the future. He describes the field of exoplanet research in its proper historical perspective, from the early ideas of sixteenth-century heretic Giordano Bruno and the rise of science fiction to the discovery of the first exoplanet in 1995 and the invention of the Kepler space telescope. He travels the world to talk to leading scientists in the field, including first exoplanet discoverer Michel Mayor, NASA Kepler mission scientist Bill Borucki and MIT astrophysicist Sara Seager. Presenting cutting-edge research in a dynamic, fun and accessible way, this book will appeal to everyone with an interest in astronomy and space.

Publisher: Reaktion Books
ISBN: 9781780238142
Number of pages: 248
Dimensions: 216 x 138 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"Planet Hunters traces the history of exoplanet discovery back to a time when the idea of planets beyond our solar system was just science fiction--or heresy. Ellerbroek describes the field of exoplanet research in all its historical context, from Giordano Bruno's heretical burning at the stake for suggesting that stars had planets of their own, to Bill Borucki's dedication to making the Kepler mission a reality. By uncovering the centuries of courage and creativity it took to make revolutionary discoveries in astronomy, Ellerbroek hopes readers will feel less intimidated by the sciences and more encouraged to innovate."--Doris Elin Salazar "Space.com "
Twenty years ago, humankind did not know whether most stars have planets or whether our Sun was unique with its array of orbiting planets. Today we know that most stars have planets ('exoplanets'), many of the planets are Earth-size, and that there are billions of Earth-size planets orbiting in the habitable zone where life might evolve. Planet Hunters provides dozens of delightful (and sometimes humorous) histories of individuals who thought and wrote about planets and life around other stars before the recent discoveries provided facts. . . . Planet Hunters is both informative and a pleasure to read. I highly recommend it."--William J. Borucki, Kepler Principal Investigator, NASA Ames Research Center
"We are living in an exceptional epoch. Thanks to the development of technology, the ancient dreams of Greek philosophers have become an exciting field of modern astronomy. In this timely book, the characters who have participated in the discovery of these other worlds share their personal stories. Discoveries are made by individuals, thanks to their vision, enthusiasm, and perseverance, and also through friendship, collaboration, and competition. Planet Hunters is a lively fresco of that international endeavor."--Michel Mayor, discoverer of the first exoplanet and emeritus professor of astrophysics, University of Geneva
"Are we alone in the universe? In Planet Hunters, Lucas Ellerbroek traces the story of this question from its beginnings during the age of Copernicus and Galileo to the present day, teaching us the relevant science as he goes. Ellerbroek is particularly skilled at inserting the 'astronomy backstory, ' giving accessible introductions to both historical ideas and cutting-edge research, and showing how big questions are teased into empirical science."--Science
"Ellerbroek examines how the first astronomers gazed at the stars--with the naked eye and then with early telescopes--and shares their thoughts and discoveries. As he does, he provides great examples to help readers understand the immense distances in space and the difficulties inherent in studying the 'wobbles' of stars and planets so many millions of miles away. . . . Meticulous and well-researched, but not dull, Planet Hunters is infused with the enthusiasm of the many people who have devoted their lives to searching for a potential neighbor in the enormity of space."--Shelf Awareness

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