Weird Life: The Search for Life That Is Very, Very Different from Our Own

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9780393071580: Weird Life: The Search for Life That Is Very, Very Different from Our Own

Science that sounds like science fiction.

In recent years, scientists have hypothesized life-forms that can only be called "weird": organisms that live off acid rather than water, microbes that thrive at temperatures and pressure levels so extreme that their cellular structures should break down, perhaps even organisms that reproduce without DNA. Some of these strange life-forms, unrelated to all life we know, might be nearby: on rock surfaces in the American southwest, hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, or even in our own bodies. Some, stranger still, might live in Martian permafrost, swim in the dark oceans of Jupiter's moons, or survive in the exotic ices on comets.  Others--the strangest of all--might inhabit the crusts of neutron stars, interstellar nebulae, or even other spatial dimensions. 

In Weird Life, David Toomey takes us on a breathtaking tour of a universe of hypothetical life, a universe of life as we do not know it. 10 illustrations

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From the Back Cover:

PRAISE FOR DAVID TOOMEY

  • THE NEW TIME TRAVELERS
"An honest, intelligent and largely accessible work of impressive scholarship on a difficult subject." -- Lawrence M. Krauss, Nature"Riveting ... Toomey is imaginative and compelling." -- Chris Kridler, Houston Chronicle"Superbly written." -- Steven Poole, Guardian"Toomey does a very good job at blending cutting-edge science with entertaining and insightful stories about scientists as human beings." -- Sean Carroll, Times Higher Education"Toomey ... is able to bring his topic fully to life ... fine writing." -- Publishers Weekly
  • STORMCHASERS
"Invigorating ... dramatic and scientific.  Toomey brings a novelist's eye and an investigative journalist's panache to his re-creation of ... the history and science." -- Dan Santow, Chicago Tribune

About the Author:

David Toomey is an associate professor of English and director of the Professional Writing and Technical Communication Program at the University of Massachusetts−Amherst. His other books include The New Time Travelers: a journey to the frontiers of physics (Norton 2007) and Stormchasers: the Hurricane Hunters and their flight into Hurricane Janet (Norton 2002).  He lives in Amherst.

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Book Description WW Norton Co, United States, 2013. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In the 1980s and 1990s, in places where no one thought it possible, scientists found organisms they called extremophiles: lovers of extremes. There were bacteria in volcanic hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, single-celled algae in Antarctic ice floes, and fungi in the cooling pools of nuclear reactors. But might there be life stranger than the most extreme extremophile? Might there be, somewhere, another kind of life entirely? In fact, scientists have hypothesized life that uses ammonia instead of water, life based not in carbon but in silicon, life driven by nuclear chemistry, and life whose very atoms are unlike those in life we know. In recent years some scientists have begun to look for the tamer versions of such life on rock surfaces in the American Southwest, in a shadow biosphere that might impinge on the known biosphere, and even deep within human tissue. They have also hypothesized more radical versions that might survive in Martian permafrost, in the cold ethylene lakes on Saturn s moon Titan, and in the hydrogen-rich atmospheres of giant planets in other solar systems. And they have imagined it in places off those worlds: the exotic ices in comets, the vast spaces between the stars, and-strangest of all-parallel universes. Distilling complex science in clear and lively prose, David Toomey illuminates the research of the biological avant-garde and describes the workings of weird organisms in riveting detail. His chapters feature an unforgettable cast of brilliant scientists and cover everything from problems with our definitions of life to the possibility of intelligent weird life. With wit and understanding that will delight scientists and lay readers alike, Toomey reveals how our current knowledge of life forms may account for only a tiny fraction of what s really out there. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780393071580

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Book Description WW Norton Co, United States, 2013. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In the 1980s and 1990s, in places where no one thought it possible, scientists found organisms they called extremophiles: lovers of extremes. There were bacteria in volcanic hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, single-celled algae in Antarctic ice floes, and fungi in the cooling pools of nuclear reactors. But might there be life stranger than the most extreme extremophile? Might there be, somewhere, another kind of life entirely? In fact, scientists have hypothesized life that uses ammonia instead of water, life based not in carbon but in silicon, life driven by nuclear chemistry, and life whose very atoms are unlike those in life we know. In recent years some scientists have begun to look for the tamer versions of such life on rock surfaces in the American Southwest, in a shadow biosphere that might impinge on the known biosphere, and even deep within human tissue. They have also hypothesized more radical versions that might survive in Martian permafrost, in the cold ethylene lakes on Saturn s moon Titan, and in the hydrogen-rich atmospheres of giant planets in other solar systems. And they have imagined it in places off those worlds: the exotic ices in comets, the vast spaces between the stars, and-strangest of all-parallel universes. Distilling complex science in clear and lively prose, David Toomey illuminates the research of the biological avant-garde and describes the workings of weird organisms in riveting detail. His chapters feature an unforgettable cast of brilliant scientists and cover everything from problems with our definitions of life to the possibility of intelligent weird life. With wit and understanding that will delight scientists and lay readers alike, Toomey reveals how our current knowledge of life forms may account for only a tiny fraction of what s really out there. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780393071580

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