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Out There: A Scientific Guide to Alien Life, Antimatter, and Human Space Travel (For the Cosmically Curious)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  228 ratings  ·  50 reviews
In the vein of Randall Munroe's What If? meets Brian Green's Elegant Universe, a senior writer from leads readers on a wild ride of exploration into the final frontier, investigating what's really "out there."
We've all asked ourselves the question. It's impossible to look up at the stars and NOT think about it: Are we alone in the universe? Books, movies and tele
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published November 13th 2018 by Grand Central Publishing
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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  228 ratings  ·  50 reviews

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Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Informative, based on scientific research and real observations, not speculations and guessing.
Will M.
Jan 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Unfortunately I didn't really gain anything new from this novel. Everything that was tackled here I've already read somewhere else and it's more of questions than answers really. This novel isn't bad, it's just unfortunate that I already read a bunch of books like this before and those were more in depth.
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
This cheeky little book attempts to digest all of the speculative and predictive thought about aliens, space travel, time travel, and tropes of sci-fi generally. For a dilettante like me without any background in physics or the hard sciences, it was the perfect level of detail, and the humor sped things along apace. Really enjoyed this very quick read.
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didnt-finish
The first thing I noticed when cracking open Out There was that the typeface was twice as big as I'd expect, which is a big red flag for me when it comes to short nonfiction. And sure enough, the book involved way too much padding for my taste.

It's written in a breezy, simplistic style that might make it a decent fit for middle-grade readers if it didn't also include references to things like virtual porn. I've read more engaging (and less fluffy) takes on these subjects though, so I gave up on
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
what a fascinating universe! aren't you glad you live here?

sooo so good!!! one of the best books i've read on the subject. we truly live in a remarkable time, settled right here on the very precipice of the second space age. wall is accessible, hilarious, and unbelievably smart -- i absolutely devoured this book. i highly highly highly recommend it to anyone interested in mankind's inevitable future as a space-exploring species. we have so much to look forward to!
May 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: space
Just okay...while some of the facts were interesting, I cringed at every bad attempt at humor. Likely would have earned another star with that simple elimination.
Noah Goats
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thought this book was a lot of fun. Out There speculates about what alien life might be like and how and where we might find it. Wall is a good guide to take us through these questions. He doesn't believe aliens have been to our planet yet (although, as he points out, if they came 60 million years ago, how would we know?), but he is cautiously optimistic about the possibility of extraterrestrial life existing in the universe. I've read about a lot of the subjects covered in this book (transper ...more
William Schram
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Are we alone in the universe? It is a good question to ask. Given the size of the universe and the diversity of life on earth, it seems rather unusual for us to insist that we are the only intelligent beings. Out There is a measured, scientific look at Extraterrestrial Life and the implications it would have for all of us on Earth. The author, Michael Wall, sprinkles little bits of humor here and there that add a touch of flavor to what he is saying.

Most of the book focuses on aliens and methods
Feb 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
Three point five stars. Amusing, breezy, with enough brain candy to keep you engaged. Per Wall: life elsewhere? Probably. Intelligent life? Probably. Will we become robots? Probably, unless we commit collective suicide. Lots more besides, but those are my main takeaways.

Contra Wall's optimism, I recommend "If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens ... WHERE IS EVERYBODY?" by Webb. Webb focuses exclusively on the likelihood of alien life, unlike Wall, who also discusses a number of related topics (t
Frederick Gault
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, nonfiction
A breezy quick read full of droll asides. Fun, quick, suitable for kids and young adults.
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Good subject matter, but too breezy and jokey for my taste.
Lester Cockram
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent fun, easy to read science book covering Astro Physics and biology. Really like the authors style in using learned HS science skills to unlock secrets of the universe.
Should be required reading of all first year science majors.
Nicholas Conrad
Apr 16, 2019 rated it liked it
A competent survey of the history and current state of the explored concepts for a general audience, but doesn't bring anything new or interesting to established fans of space and science. Michael tries too hard to make sure there's a snarky joke or pop-culture reference every few sentences; a few are well crafted and entertaining, but on the whole it comes off as contrived.
Dec 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
***I won this book from the Publisher via a Goodreads Giveaway***

Interesting read (mostly) on the search for alien life (mostly microbes and such, not little green men or the Greys!), (some) on human space travel, and just a little on Antimatter. Beautifully done book jacket! I love the touch of DOS green.

Wall lightens up the whole book with humor. I haven't read any of his articles on but I'd say the humor and the style are probably similar. That being said, I think most of the inform
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
A good intro for people new to thinking about alien life, but too pop-y & basic for my advanced level of comprehension & familiarity with the subject. Wink, wink, wink...
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Is there a rating higher than five stars? If so, I’d like to give it to Michael Wall’s Out There!

Let’s face it, most technical scientists are dry and their books even more arid. Enter Michael Wall, a science writer that introduces levity into technical scientific discussions. Relaxing and laughing while reading hard science clearly helps the learning curve. I’m not sure if anyone has done a research project on this yet but I’m convinced it is a thing; when science books are too dense the mind fo
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. What a wild ride.

I tend to battle with myself when it comes to nonfiction. I have trouble with a lot of the writing because, though the topic is always interesting, the writing can be sub-par, unorganized, un-engaging, too scientific, dry, and frankly- boring. I have only come across a handful off nonfiction books that have truly kept me captivated and interested. Many of those tend to be biographies because, who couldn't enjoy or learn from a life journey? Out There, though, Out There remi
Thomas Mihalich
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
The last time I grabbed one of these thin pocket science books, it was Neil DeGrasse Tyson's Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. This book was slightly less informative than that one (Michael Wall is not a physicist; he's a biologist and most of his space-related work involves contributions to SETI and the website.) but I will say it was more entertaining.

Out There mostly involves postulations involving what alien life could look like based on what we know about biochemistry, how likel
John Lawchamp (YouTube)
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you want a book that will fill you head with wonderful ideas about aliens and exploring space, this is the book for you.
The ideas are realistic and helpful for us humans in understanding how aliens would react to us and how we would react to them, or just the idea of finding them through our technology. One idea presented, that I enjoy very much, is that ET would most likely leave us alone. This is because if they have the power to visit us than that means they already know about us. They al
Linda Donohue
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways-read
I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway. I was delighted the book was coming my way as it seems I have been doing some reading about UFO's and the Roswell incident. There is some speculation that the next coming of Christ will be from space, and the Catholic Church has a number of telescope and astronomers on the payroll. The book was informative about a number of aspects about space and the current and future space probe travel and resettling on another planet. At the beginning of the book ...more
Tony Heyl
May 07, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a very light, easy to read book about some very complicated topics in space and physics. It's also fun to read in addition to being so accessible. No matter what your educational background, you can read this book and understand concepts about what aliens could look like, how we look for life on other planets, and whether we can find life in our own solar system.

There isn't anything groundbreaking in this book and nothing that makes it stand out as a must read if you are interested in t
Jan 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: academic
Conversational in tone, there are some fun and exploratory moments that would appeal to a casual reader, either adult or young adult, that pose some of the more complicated ideals science has offered to explain alien or extraterrestrial life.

Exploring some of the more "outlandish" ideas through scientific exploration provides a logical way to approach the question of "are we all alone" and Wall does a good job of providing a narative contrasting what we know and what we don't through the eyes o
Ed Bernard
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
A hugely entertaining survey of the search for intelligent life in the universe, covering core concepts of astrobiology, the physics of space travel, SETI projects, the controversy over Mariner project’s discovery of possible evidence of life on Mars and much more. It’s all fascinating, and the author’s style, which liberally uses humor (both good and bad) ranged from annoying to laugh-out-loud funny. Over the course of the book, I ended up appreciating his humor, but also his ability to take di ...more
Apr 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting short read. The author writes in an entertaining, engaging style that was a pleasant change from some of the overly dry and tedious reading that plagues many science books.
Although it had a nice style and was fun to read, most (if not all) of the material covered here will not be new to most who have a basic understanding of chemistry, biology, physics, astronomy, and have done even cursory reading related to those subjects. Of course that may be presumptuous of me, as ma
Nicholas Smeaton
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a good overall of the current state of the search for extra-terrestrial life, including where it might be found in the solar system and where it might be found outside the solar system. While the author is clearly in favour of searching for extra-terrestrial life and intelligence, he doesn't let his enthusiasm for the cause get away from him an includes a number of challenges facing searches and some of the dissenting theories in the Scientific community. This is a fast moving area ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's sharp, it's irreverent, it includes weird little drawings--what more could you want out of life or a book about aliens? Wall, who cut his teeth on writing public sci-comm articles for, rolls out his extensive knowledge and quotes his more specifically knowledgeable compatriots in astrophysics, SETI, and other related fields. It's a quick read, and probably the perfect book to bridge teen readers from Contact to more intensive nonfiction science reads. It fits beautifully on a book ...more
Harry Steinmetz
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book. The near perfect combination of mind bending speculation, backed by the best science we know, and gentle reading for non-scientists. Wall is a terrific writer with lots of humorous asides that relate to our current lives. But his strength is relating complexity in terms we can understand. The book is a survey of the current state of the search for alien life, space travel and colonization, and physics. The book progresses nicely in complexity ending with time travel. I highly r ...more
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
I tried to finish this book, but the "humor" was just too annoying. Maybe if you are a twelve year old, then you'd find this useful and interesting. There are just too many silly and tub to be cute comments constantly. For example he writes about again and how, sooner or later, they can deliver anything to you... And they'll even take away your poop. Really? That is a scientific current? This book could have been so much more than it is.

Honestly, I got about one quarter into it and quit. If I w
Nov 23, 2018 rated it liked it
I won this book on Goodreads. Some interesting topics are discussed in this book which is based on science rather than just pure speculation. I was hoping for more though, I am not sure what I was hoping to read or take away from this book but I felt the book was lacking in some way. There are some references to science fiction movies and TV shows throughout the book, and for those who haven't viewed them may be at a loss. I haven't seen them all so some of the reference points didn't register w ...more
Mike He
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
While many new and emerging questions about the outer space and human relationship with it still remain unanswered, guesstimated or far from being appropriately explained, "Out There" captures years of the mankind's relentless efforts and accomplishments in understanding and exploring the cosmos, leading the reader with insights and logical thinking toward future scientific research and exploration endeavors.
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Michael Wall is a former Chief Press Secretary for the New Zealand Government. He has also worked in the Office of the Prime Minister, under the administration of Sir Robert Muldoon.

He now lives at Te Ore Ore in the Wairarapa where he writes and breeds sports horses. He has written a series of thriller novels, including Museum Street, Friendly Fire, The Cassino Legacy, The Temptations of Frederick
“(which would be the most serious littering offense ever, way worse than sneaking away after your dog drops a deuce on someone’s lawn)” 0 likes
“Maybe ET will use math to get our attention—a string of prime numbers, perhaps, or the apparently omnipresent, omni-important Pythagorean theorem. High school trig teachers should rebrand it the alien communication formula. That would’ve kept you from daydreaming in class, right?” 0 likes
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