Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life Beyond Our Solar System
Authors: Jayawardhana, Ray
Publisher: Harper Perennial
We are living in an extraordinary age of discovery. After millennia of musings and a century of false claims, our knowledge of other worlds has suddenly exploded. Since 1995, astronomers have found hundreds of planets orbiting other stars—discoveries that have surprised us and challenged our views many times over. At the crux of the astronomers’ pursuit is one basic question: Is our solar system, with planets in circular orbits, gas giants in the outer realm and at least one warm, wet, rocky world teeming with life, the exception or the norm? It’s an important and timely question for every one of us. Astronomers expect to find alien earths by the dozens within the next few years and to examine them for telltale signs of life before this decade is out. If they succeed, the ramifications for all areas of human thought and endeavour—from religion and philosophy to art and biology—are profound, perhaps revolutionary. What’s at stake is the true measure of our own place in the cosmos.
In Strange New Worlds, renowned astronomer Ray Jayawardhana offers 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 extra-solar planet research.
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