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Astrobiology: A Brief Introduction

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3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  62 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Astrobiology--the study of the intimate relationship between life and the cosmos--is a fast-growing field that touches on aspects of cosmology, astrophysics, and chemistry. In the first scholarly overview of this dynamic field, biochemists Kevin W. Plaxco and Michael Gross tell the story of life from the Big Bang to the present.

Emphasizing the biochemical nature of astrobi
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Paperback, 259 pages
Published May 11th 2006 by Johns Hopkins University Press
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pearl
May 03, 2011 pearl marked it as to-read
Shelves: nonfiction, science
Professor Plaxco was a guest speaker in my Origins class today and he gave an absolutely compelling lecture on astrobiology. Sure it was, y'know, a little on the blue side to hear about the near-infinitesimal chances of finding other lifeforms in the universe, in addition to the nightmarish thought of self-replicating nanomachines that may/will someday destroy us and take over the planet. But it was still awesome.
Michael Burnam-Fink
Dec 04, 2016 Michael Burnam-Fink rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, non-fiction, 2016
Plaxco is a strong introduction to astrobiology, an undergraduate level textbook that is on the 'science' side of 'popular science'. Defining life as "a self-replicating chemical system capable of evolving such that such that it's offspring might be better suited for survival", Plaxco and Gross launch into a history of life on Earth from the Big Bang, and the prospects for the future discovery of life.

As a chemist, Plaxco is biased towards chemistry as the most important part of the question abo
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Linda Munro
Jan 28, 2013 Linda Munro rated it it was amazing
This book was one of many suggested readings for a course I am taking in Astrobiology through corserea.org.

I have found one thing about these suggested readings; they are loaded with information! Here is the problem with a multitude of information, trying to absorb it all! There is another problem with many of the suggested readings for courses; most are written to offer the reader the most information in within a few hundred pages. They are loaded with footnotes and additional suggested reading
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Hugh Ashton
Mar 11, 2015 Hugh Ashton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was heavy going in places. My chemistry stopped at the age of 15, and I was never any good at it anyway. However, the authors recognise that the organic and biological chemistry that underpins much of life is indeed complex, and they make it as simple as possible for the reader like me.

The astrophysics and the atomic physics were easier for me to get on with (but of course, that's just me - it may be that other people have different specialties).

Overall, though, the authors provide a compre
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Karen
Dec 06, 2007 Karen rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, space
I started on this several months ago. Then it fell by the wayside. I loved the early chapters about the Big Bang, the origin of the Universe, the formation of our Solar System. Suns exploding, gas giants swirling, a planet smacking into Earth and hacking off a chunk that would become our Moon. Yeah!

I found the book dry on occasion, but it kept my interest overall. I found it fairly accessible, but I struggled with some of the material. In particular, the figures and tables could have been cleare
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Anthony
Dec 26, 2014 Anthony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is the Textbook that I chose for my Molecules of Astrobiology topics course that I will be teaching in Spring of 2015. I chose this book because I felt that it would be accessible to most Biology and Chemistry students. Since my course will be more of a Molecular Biology/Biochemistry course, this book offers an introduction to the field that does not require a degree in Astronomy or Physics. While I wouldn't suggest it to the casual reader, it would be a goodread for the armchair-scientist.
H.S.
Mar 08, 2013 H.S. rated it really liked it
This was suggested reading for an Astrobiology course I recently had. I found this text very easy to follow with my class work and found additional information that wasn't covered from the course.

I liked the simplicity of this text and it generated some interest in the area of extremophiles. I look forward to learning more about them, esp. for an upcoming course on exoplanets.
Natalie
Jun 10, 2015 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very chemistry heavy. Interesting, but not light reading. I recommend it for those who are interested in the chemistry of life, possible scientific explanation of the origin of life, biological geology, early paleontology, comparative planetary science. Not for everyone, but I know more for having read it.
Owen Devitt
Dec 20, 2013 Owen Devitt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating read spanning physics, astrophysics, chemistry, micro-biology, climates, geology, biology and evolution.
The best examination of the components of the Drake equation I've ever read.
A bit heavy on the scientific details for readers without a scientific background.
Gregory Sotir
Mar 10, 2012 Gregory Sotir rated it liked it
It was a bit too technical and scientific for my depth, especially on the chemistry aspects of biochemistry, but still worthwhile to slog through. The RNA/DNA connections to comets is pretty wild. Is this the past or is it the future?
Cassandra
Feb 10, 2013 Cassandra rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
My brain is now filled with SCIENCE.

Also, I have learnt that being a scientist improves your chances of a long life. And that there can be no more than 1,000 cows on Mars.
Armen Shirvanian
Oct 05, 2009 Armen Shirvanian rated it it was ok
Shelves: own
I read this book long ago for astrobiology class I had with my teacher who is the Kevin Plaxco that authored it. It is a cool book about our origins and DNA/RNA as they came about.
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