Guide Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life beyond Our Solar System

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In Strange New Worlds , renowned astronomer Ray Jayawardhana brings news from the front lines of the epic quest to find planets--and alien life--beyond our solar system. Only in the past two decades, after millennia of speculation, have astronomers begun to discover planets around other stars--thousands in fact.

Now they are closer than ever to unraveling distant twins of the Earth. In this book, Jayawardhana vividly recounts the stories of the scientists and the remarkable breakthroughs that have ushered in this extraordinary age of exploration. He describes the latest findings--including his own--that are challenging our view of the cosmos and casting new light on the origins and evolution of planets and planetary systems. He reveals how technology is rapidly advancing to support direct observations of Jupiter-like gas giants and super-Earths--rocky planets with several times the mass of our own planet--and how astronomers use biomarkers to seek possible life on other worlds.

Strange New Worlds provides an insider's look at the cutting-edge science of today's planet hunters, our prospects for discovering alien life, and the debates and controversies at the forefront of extrasolar-planet research.

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In a new afterword, Jayawardhana explains some of the most recent developments as we search for the first clues of life on other planets. Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform. With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

If, on the other hand, an alien radio signal were to be detected, that would constitute a more clear-cut and exciting moment.

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The search for extraterrestrial intelligence with radio telescopes has come of age recently, 50 years after the first feeble attempt. The construction of the Allen Telescope Array on an arid plateau in northern California greatly expands the number of star systems from which astronomers could detect signals.

If life can spring up on two planets independently, why not on a thousand or even a billion others?


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Some people worry that discovering life elsewhere, especially if it turns out to be in possession of incredible technology, will make us feel small and insignificant. They seem concerned that it will constitute a horrific blow to our collective ego. I happen to be an optimist.

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It may take decades after the initial indications of alien life for scientists to gather enough evidence to be certain or to decipher a signal of artificial origin. The full ramifications of the discovery may not be felt for generations, giving us plenty of time to get used to the presence of our galactic neighbors.

Besides, knowing that we are not alone just might be the kick in the pants we need to grow up as a species. Tell us what you think. Please upgrade your browser. See next articles.

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