Imagined Life: A Speculative Scientific Journey among the Exoplanets in Search of Intelligent Aliens, Ice Creatures, and Supergravity Animals

Imagined Life: A Speculative Scientific Journey among the Exoplanets in Search of Intelligent Aliens, Ice Creatures, and Supergravity Animals

by James Trefil, Michael Summers


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The captivating possibilities of extraterrestrial life on exoplanets, based on current scientific knowledge of existing worlds and forms of life

It is now known that we live in a galaxy with more planets than stars. The Milky Way alone encompasses 30 trillion potential home planets. Scientists Trefil and Summers bring readers on a marvelous experimental voyage through the possibilities of life—unlike anything we have experienced so far—that could exist on planets outside our own solar system.

Life could be out there in many forms: on frozen worlds, living in liquid oceans beneath ice and communicating (and even battling) with bubbles; on super-dense planets, where they would have evolved body types capable of dealing with extreme gravity; on tidally locked planets with one side turned eternally toward a star; and even on "rogue worlds," which have no star at all. Yet this is no fictional flight of fancy: the authors take what we know about exoplanets and life on our own world and use that data to hypothesize about how, where, and which sorts of life might develop. Imagined Life is a must-have for anyone wanting to learn how the realities of our universe may turn out to be far stranger than fiction.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781588346643
Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
Publication date: 09/17/2019
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 273,308
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

MICHAEL SUMMERS is a planetary scientist and professor of physics and astronomy at George Mason University. Since 1989, he has served on the mission teams of several NASA space probes in the role of science planning and interpretation of spacecraft observations. He is currently a coinvestigator on the NASA New Horizons mission to the Pluto-Charon double planet, where he serves as the deputy lead of the Atmospheres Theme Team. JAMES TREFIL is Clarence J. Robinson Professor of Physics at George Mason University. He has written more than 50 books on science for a general audience. His writing has won the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Westinghouse Science Journalism Award, and other honors.

Table of Contents

Preface 1

1 The Unexpected Galaxy 5

2 Opportunities and Constraints: A Universe of Laws 11

3 Life: What Is It? 25

4 The Rules of the Game: How Every Living System Has to Work 35

5 Looking for Life: Is It Really Out There? 51

6 Iceheim: Life in the Deep Freeze 65

7 Nova Europa: The Ocean beneath the Ice 81

9 Neptunia: Water, Water Everywhere 93

9 Goldilocks World: Just Like Us 107

10 Halo: Life at the Terminator 117

11 Lonesome: All by Itself 129

12 Big Boy: The Heavy One 143

13 TRAPPIST-I: A Crowded System 155

14 A Closer Look: It Gets Even Stranger 169

15 Life That Is Not Like Us: What If We're Not the Only Kind? 181

16 Life That Is Really Not Like Us: It Can Get Pretty Weird 195

17 Open Questions 211

A Final Word 225

Index 227

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