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Ward P.D., Brownlee D. Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe

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Ward P.D., Brownlee D. Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe
Copernicus Books, USA, 2009. — 338 p. — ISBN: 0387952896
What determines whether complex life will arise on a planet, or even any life at all? Questions such as these are investigated in this groundbreaking book. In doing so, the authors synthesize information from astronomy, biology, and paleontology, and apply it to what we know about the rise of life on Earth and to what could possibly happen elsewhere in the universe. Everyone who has been thrilled by the recent discoveries of extrasolar planets and the indications of life on Mars and the Jovian moon Europa will be fascinated by Rare Earth, and its implications for those who look to the heavens for companionship.
Contents
Introduction: The Astrobiology Revolution and the Rare Earth Hypothesis
Dead Zones of the Universe
Rare Earth Factors
Why Life Might Be Widespread in the Universe
Habitable Zones of the Universe
Building a Habitable Earth
Life’s First Appearance on Earth
How to Build Animals
Snowball Earth
The Enigma of the Cambrian Explosion
Mass Extinctions and the Rare Earth Hypothesis
The Surprising Importance of Plate Tectonics
The Moon, Jupiter, and Life on Earth
Testing the Rare Earth Hypotheses
Assessing the Odds
Messengers from the Stars
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