By Lee Billings
An intimate historical past of Earth and the search for all times past the sunlight system
For 4.6 billion years our residing planet has been alone in an enormous and silent universe. yet quickly, Earth’s isolation could come to an finish. over the last decades, astronomers have came upon millions of planets orbiting different stars. a few of these exoplanets may possibly be mirror photographs of our personal international. And extra are being found forever.
but because the speed of discovery hastens, an answer to the universe’s maximum riddle nonetheless is still simply out of achieve: Is the nice silence and vacancy of the cosmos a signal that we and our global are by some means singular, special, and profoundly by myself, or does it simply mean that we’re searching for lifestyles in all of the improper areas? As star-gazing scientists come toward studying the truth, their insights are proving ever extra the most important to understanding life’s elaborate mysteries and possibilities right right here on the earth.
technological know-how journalist Lee Billings explores the past and way forward for the exoplanet boom” via in-depth reporting and interviews with the astronomers and planetary scientists at its leading edge. He recounts the stories at the back of their world-changing discoveries and captures the pivotal moments that drove them forward in their historical look for the fi rst habitable planets past our sunlight procedure. Billings brings readers on the subject of a variety of attention-grabbing characters, such as:
FRANK DRAKE, a pioneer who has used the world’s maximum radio telescopes to behavior the first searches for extraterrestrial intelligence and to transmit a message to the celebs so robust that it in brief outshone our Sun.
JIM KASTING, a mild-mannered former NASA scientist whose learn into the Earth’s atmosphere and weather finds the inner most foundations of life on our planet, foretells the top of lifestyles on Earth in the far away destiny, and publications the planet hunters in their look for alien existence.
SARA SEAGER, a visionary and iron-willed MIT professor who goals of escaping the sun system and construction the enormous area telescopes required to realize and research life-bearing planets around hundreds of the Sun’s neighboring stars.
via those and different desirable stories, Billings traces the triumphs, tragedies, and betrayals of the extraordinary women and men looking lifestyles between the stars. even with insu cient investment, clashing opinions, and the flaws of a few of our world’s such a lot prominent and strong scientifi c firms, those planet hunters won't relaxation till they fi nd the that means of life in the infi nite depths of area. Billings emphasizes that the heroic quest for different Earth-like planets is not just a scientifi c pursuit, but in addition a refl ection of our own culture’s undying hopes and fears.
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Extra info for Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars
But though we now can dismiss from our minds the possibihty that the Sun can be inhabited, yet it is of such importance to the maintenance of life on this planet, and by parity of reasoning to hfe on any other planet, that a review of its conditions forms a necessary introduction to our subject. Further, those conditions ' themselves will bring out certain principles that are of necessary application when we come to consider the case of particular planets. The distance of the Sun from the Earth is often spoken of as the " astronomical unit " it is the fundamental measure of astronomy, and all our ; information as to the sizes and distances of the various planets rests upon it.
Its surface exceeds that of the Earth its volume, 1,310,000 times. 11,970 times But the weight of the Sun is known as well as its size this follows as a consequence of gravitation. For the planets move in orbits under the influence of the Sun's attraction the dimensions of their orbits are known, and the times taken in de; ; ; scribing them therefore the Sun. is ; also This the amount of the attractive force known, that is is to say, the mass of 332,000 times the mass of the THE SUN Earth and as the ; latter has been determined as equal to about 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 tons that of the Sun would be equal to 2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 tons.
In 1897, on September 21, the late Major Molesworth noticed that the crater was at that time under the rays of the setting Sun, and filled with shadow, and the inner terraces, which should have been invisible, were seen as faint, knotted, glimmering streaks under both the eastern and western walls, and the central peak was also dimly discernible. He thought this unusual lighting up of rocks on which the Sun had already set might be due either to phosphorescence produced by long exposure to the Sun's rays, or to inherent heat, or to reflected glare from the v/estern rampart.
Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars by Lee Billings