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Astrobiology: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #370)

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  90 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Astrobiology is an exciting new subject, and one, arguably, more interdisciplinary than any other. Astrobiologists seek to understand the origin and evolution of life on Earth in order to illuminate and guide the search for life on other planets. In this Very Short Introduction, David C. Catling introduces the subject through our understanding of the factors that allowed ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 1st 2014 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published September 27th 2013)
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Jan 26, 2014 jeremy rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
a concise, lucid primer of the ever-expanding field of astrobiology, catling's slim book (part of oxford's fantastic a very short introduction series) offers much more than a mere cursory presentation of the subject's elementary concepts. as an incipient discipline within the broader astrosciences, exciting advances in the studies of the origins of life (both on our own planet, as well as elsewhere in the solar system, galaxy, and universe) are reframing our knowledge on an on-going basis. while ...more
Tiago Pereira
Oct 16, 2016 Tiago Pereira rated it it was amazing
Que livrinho fascinante... Não tem nem duzentas páginas, mas tem mais informações do que muito livrão por aí, e num texto empolgante e até divertido. Na definição do autor, astrobiologia é "o ramo da ciência que estuda a origem e a evolução da vida na Terra e a possível variedade da vida em outros lugares". Para isso, é preciso estudar um pouco de tudo: cosmologia, astronomia, astrofísica, geologia, microbiologia, química, evolução... Ou seja, só coisa boa!
Bojan Tunguz
Dec 23, 2013 Bojan Tunguz rated it it was amazing
The most remarkable thing about this book is that it has actually been written and published. Just a decade ago a book with a title of “Astrobiology” would have been squarely relegated to the science fiction section of the bookstore. Granted, we still haven’t found any signs of alien life, but our understandings of the origin and diversity of life on Earth, conditions in various parts of the Solar System, and the prevalence of potentially habitable worlds in our galaxy have grown almost ...more
Aug 14, 2016 Sonic rated it really liked it
This is superb.

Includes some science that is well presented and clear.

The topic stimulates the imagination,
while the considerations guiding our exploration offers a kind of refresher course on some foundational scientific ideas.
Of course relating to our place in this Galaxy.

Apr 29, 2015 NancyHelen rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
Astrobiology, or the study of life and its origins both on this planet and in space, is a very new science and really, really fascinating. Of course, we all want to know whether we're alone in the universe, but it is only this new science that is really looking to answer that question. This book provided a really succinct introduction to what is an enormously complex subject. It was highly scientific and perhaps not fully accessible to many, and the first chapters, discussing the origins of life ...more
Dec 26, 2014 Anthony rated it it was amazing

An excellent, condensed overview of Astrobiology. This tome goes over the basics of the field, while still touching on new theories and untested ideas. If you are curious about this field of Biology/Astronomy, this is the perfect primer. Great stuff!
Bernie Gourley
Oct 06, 2016 Bernie Gourley rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those wanting to learn about the possibility of extra-terrestrial life.
This book explains how life came about on Earth and what that might mean for life elsewhere in the universe. It may seem odd that life’s origins on Earth is relevant to this otherwise extraterrestrial sub-discipline, but that bit of biology offers insight into what is necessary for life—at least life as we know it. There is also the question of whether life originated entirely within Earth’s primordial soup, or whether there was an extraterrestrial ingredient necessary.” [Note: we aren’t talking ...more
Mar 06, 2016 Matthew rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars


I don't have the time to write a good review but I think it's worth me saying this: I would recommend the book to most readers. If you have an interest in astrobiology and don't have a strong scientific education - or at least a good awareness - then you may well like it; it's well written, explaining scientific concepts effectively.

For me I didn't get too much out of it because I already knew a lot of the concepts the book describes from either my A-Level biology or just random read
Nov 04, 2015 Daphne rated it really liked it
Shelves: quest
Another great VSI book. This one goes into surprising depth considering the short length. Even I learned several new things about the subject, and I've been reading and listening to lectures and podcasts about the topic for years.

VSI can be hit or miss for me, but this one is a definite pass for me.
Todd Timberlake
Jan 19, 2014 Todd Timberlake rated it really liked it
Very informative but may be too technical for a non scientific audience. Lots of biochemistry and geology here.
Philipda Luangprasert
Mar 05, 2016 Philipda Luangprasert rated it really liked it
Shelves: physics, biology
Short, summarized, detailed, precise, easy and appealing to read.
Yet not so fascinating if one has read from many sources online.
Katie Bell
Katie Bell rated it liked it
Jul 14, 2014
Jay rated it it was amazing
Dec 26, 2015
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May 13, 2015
Mills College Library
576.839 C365 2013
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David Catling is a Professor of Earth and Space Sciences. After a doctorate at the University of Oxford, he worked as a planetary scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center near San Francisco from 1995-2001, then as a professor at the University of Washington in Seattle from 2001-2005, and as a European Union Marie Curie Chair in England from 2005 before returning to Seattle in 2009. Amongst other t

More about David C. Catling...

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“However life started, once established, it persisted for over 3.5 billion years and evolved from microbial slime to the sophistication of human civilization.” 0 likes
“In the Solar System, Enceladus ought to be one of the highest priorities for the world's space agencies. Enceladus has a source of energy (tidal heating), organic material, and liquid water. That's a textbook-like list of those properties needed for life. Moreover, nature has provided astrobiologists with the ultimate free lunch: jets that spurt Enceladus's organic material into space.” 0 likes
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