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

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  195 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Soon astronomers expect to find alien Earths by the dozens in orbit around distant suns. Before the decade is out, telltale signs that they harbor life may be found. If they are, the ramifications for all areas of human thought and endeavor--from religion and philosophy to art and biology--will be breathtaking. In "Strange New Worlds," renowned astronomer Ray Jayawardhana ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published February 20th 2011 by Princeton University Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 991)
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Jake Cooper
Too many sentences like this: "Seth Redfield, now at Wesleyan University, and colleagues sighted sodium at last in 2007 in HD 189733b, with the 9.2-meter Hobby-Eberly Telescope in west Texas."
Charlene Lewis- Estornell
What a difference between Jayawardhana's writing in this book and his later book on neutrinos! Without question his style changed for the better. This book is great, but not as relatable as Neutrino Hunters. Planet formation is a favorite subject of mine, but I had to make myself pay attention. The history in the first few chapters didn't really grab me. But, then Jayawardhana began to discuss brown dwarfs and I was hooked, so much so, I started over at the beginning so that when he got to brown ...more
A very quick and well-explained guide to the search for extrasolar planets.

It's a very exciting and rapidly changing field - the book is barely a year old and some of the information could be updated!

Best suited for those who want a good introduction.
Apr 01, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, space
I read this one because the author was coming to speak at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics observatory night and I wanted to get some background ahead of time.

Seriously, wow. I'd been only passively following the search for exoplanets in the news and I had NO idea how far they'd come. Scientists have found over a thousand planets outside our solar system, and they've gone so far in some case as to begin analyzing their atmospheres. From thousands of light-years away. How mind-blow
Jose lana
Dec 09, 2015 Jose lana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, astronomy
In the line of the book by Kastings but lest exaustive an easy to read, tells the histhory ,future and techniques of search the exoplanets,focusing on earthlike planets and markers of life
Christopher Obert
Sep 29, 2011 Christopher Obert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011
This book by Ray Jayawardhana stayed true to its name. The author gave us a quick history lesson and described the current state of searching for new worlds orbiting other stars. The text was not overly complicated but not too weak. Giving us a good description of the difficulties involved in finding planets light years away. Ray indeed took us to Strange New Worlds. I look forward to a follow up book as new worlds are discovered.
Jarrell Fisher
Nov 03, 2015 Jarrell Fisher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somewhat interesting. The author gives an account of the history of astronomy, and then quickly gets into details about how they detect planets. The methods are fairly complex, but at heart simple, and the author does a good job explaining them. He also conveys his own excitement. If your a science fiction fan you'll enjoy reading about space. His writing isn't that stimulating, you get the sense that he is used to writing dry scientific papers, which is condemnation of contemporary science, at ...more
Christopher Myrick
Nice, detailed history of astronomical exploration. Spiced with short biographies of astronomers, and personal anecdotes, breaking up and enlivening what could have been a story about filters, lenses and equations. Opening and closing chapters harken to Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot," in the latter with explicit reference. Much easier physics than what is found in "Neutrino Hunters," though Jupiter-sized objects are more comprehensible than the sub-atomic. As with many of my favorite science writers - ...more
Sep 11, 2014 Kendra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, space
As one of eight books related to "space" (loosely defined so as to include human spaceflight, astrorobotics, exobiology, and so on) available on-shelf in my incredibly posh local library, I decided to check this one out first since it had the most recent copyright date. Given that I'm fairly up to date on the latest news regarding exoplanets and exobiology, I was hoping to find a book that spoke to the actual hard science. What I found was a readable, but fairly general, introduction to the scie ...more
Sep 19, 2012 Sharmin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though most of the far far a way universe is out of sight of most of us, it definitely is not out of mind of the curious, thanks to books like Strange New Worlds. Hollywood has given us the fantasy of how strange other worlds can be but learning about the possibilities of the existence of other worlds that can support life as we know it, makes fact more thrilling than fiction. In this book Ray Jayawardhana has bridged the subject from fiction into non-fiction in a story telling style. I have lea ...more
Jul 04, 2011 Kirsten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love space, aliens, planets, stars, new science
Recommended to Kirsten by: Hennepin County Librarian
This book was awesome. I would have given it five stars if I liked the author's writing style a little better. It seemed a little weird to me, but I guess I should cut the guy some slack, I don't think his native language is English.

Besides that, great book! The first probably 2/3 are devoted to the history of extrasolar system planet searching, mostly failures. Then he starts getting into the success stories, explaining the evolution of various technologies along the way (said technologies all
Jul 21, 2012 Nathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fact
An excellent (re)introduction to the history and practice of astronomical observation, and the ways that astronomers have been learning more about other stars and planets. I find that, because I'm not pushing myself and studying like I might have when I was a university student, I typically exhaust my will to comprehend part-way through physics books. Jayawardhana writes so well that I survived this book until easily 2/3 of the way through. I definitely recommend this book: the stories are inter ...more
Todd Podzemny
Jun 22, 2014 Todd Podzemny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, science
A brief, clear, and entertaining rundown of the search for extrasolar planets. The book is around three years old, which is a lifetime in the absurdly fast-moving field of planet hunting, but it's a great summary of a really exciting period in science, and it really leaves you excited for what's coming up in the next couple of decades.
May 14, 2014 Gendou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fun, short book about exoplanets. It focuses on the science behind both the search for and formation of planets.
David James
Dec 18, 2012 David James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A clearly written summary of how astronomers are discovering new planets. Jayawardhana is able to explain complex ideas in language that anyone can grasp as he guides us through the universe, explaining the techniques being employed to find planets in far away solar systems. He presents the sometimes conflicting views of what is being learned and gives readers a solid understanding of the way information that is being gathered is processed and why the conclusions being drawn from it should be so ...more
Daniel R.
Jun 08, 2013 Daniel R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mos
A wonderful exploration of the science and scientists behind the search for planets outside our solar system. The chapters walk through various techniques being used to detect planets, the discoveries and controversies with that technique, and the scientists performing the work. The names of stars and planets can get a bit cumbersome at times but overall it is a very readable and enjoyable book that provides insight into this exciting area of scientific exploration.
Jan 15, 2012 JodiP rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This was such an interesting, concise yet thorough read on our search for other planets. The author doesn't get bogged down in detail and is chatty without being too personal. I have of ocurse read news stories about this work but it was great to review the whole story. It was a quick read, and I would seek out Jayawardhana for other material.
Dec 11, 2011 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-books
This actually wasn't a bad book. It did get dry at some parts - I mean, come on, it's a science book - but I actually enjoyed parts of it. It's so amazing to think that we're so close to discovering other worlds, and other life forms. It's not just science-fiction anymore - this stuff is really happening, and it's mindblowing.
Corinna Bechko
Really enjoyed learning the ins and outs of where we're at with finding planets, and what might be possible in the next couple of decades. Seriously interesting stuff explained in a down-to-earth matter. The author is clearly passionate about the subject (one he is quite expert in) and it shows.
Heather VanWaldick
Fun and interesting. The writer kept it simple, so you can understand everything he says as long as you have rudimentary grasp of science. I was already familiar with everything he covered here, but reading more about the subject definitely helped to solidify my understanding.
Sep 17, 2013 Kadri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: astronomy
This book is about exoplanets. It goes to great detail in the history of searching for exoplanets, to the different methods that are used and there's also some parts about SETI and radioastronomy. It was really interesting!
A very informative book giving the state of the art on the subject. The author didn't seem to have chosen between writing a very technical book and a popular science book.
Science For The People
Featured on Skeptically Speaking show #112 on May 15, 2011, during an interview with author Ray Jayawardhana.
Dec 29, 2012 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Very clear, concise, and to the point. A good introduction to extrasolar planet hunting and the methods used to do it.
Jun 28, 2011 Alex marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Kirsten dug this, and I've been looking for a book about this. Looks very promising.
Nov 07, 2011 Meagan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is really weird to see people I've met be referred to in third person.
Emma Hazelton
Mar 22, 2015 Emma Hazelton rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This only gets one star because I can't give it zero stars.
Bryan Kornele
Bryan Kornele marked it as to-read
Jul 23, 2016
Se Jin Kim
Se Jin Kim marked it as to-read
Jul 22, 2016
Anand Singh
Anand Singh marked it as to-read
Jul 21, 2016
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Ray Jayawardhana is a professor and the Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. Originally from Sri Lanka, he is a graduate of Yale and Harvard. He is the co-author of more than one hundred papers in scientific journals. His discoveries have made headlines worldwide, including in The Times, The Economist, Sydney Morning Herald, and BBC News, and have led t ...more
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