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Other Worlds: The Search for Life in the Universe

Code: LEV0230
Auteurs: Michael D. Lemonick
ISBN: 684832941
Uitgever: Simon & Schuster
Uitgegeven: 14 May, 1998
Korte beschrijving: The first planet around a sunlike star was finally detected in 1995, after decades of false alarms. It was inevitable that within a couple of years a flood of books on extrasolar planets would gush forth. Michael Lemonick is the senior science writer at Time magazine, and his account is the most readable and vivid yet. He has a fluid, anecdotal style, with a good ear for the sort of simile that really speaks to the average reader, as when he describes hooking up a radio telescope being like "setting up a new computer yourself. Sometimes it just plain doesn't work, and you can't for the life of you figure out why."

Lemonick structures Other Worlds around Geoff Marcy and Paul Butler, whose Extrasolar Planet Search Project at the University of California, San Francisco, is the most successful program so far, with six planet discoveries to its credit by the end of 1998. Lemonick's other touchstone is the Drake Equation, which he hyperbolically calls "the second most important equation of the century." If we could fit in values for the seven terms in this equation, we could say something sensible about the number of civilizations in the galaxy. So far, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has not come up with any actual data, but, as one researcher says, it's "the world's biggest carrot," and worth enduring a considerable number of sticks.