First Contact by Marc Kaufman
Scientific Breakthroughs in the Hunt for Life Beyond Earth

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 1 Critic Review

Unfortunately, "First Contact" reads like a collection of newspaper articles that has not been fully transformed into a book-length narrative. The stories don't unfold—they leap forward, shift without warning and stop for no apparent reason.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

Are we alone in the universe? Almost certainly not.

In First Contact, Marc Kaufman provides a gripping tour of the magnificent new science of astrobiology that is closing in on the discovery of extraterrestrial life. In recent decades, scientists generally held that the genesis of life was unique to Earth: It was too delicate a process, and the conditions needed to support it too fragile, for it to exist anywhere else. But we are now on the verge of the biggest discovery since Copernicus and Galileo told us that Earth is not at the center of the universe. New scientific breakthroughs have revolutionized our assumptions about the building blocks of life and where it may be found. Scientists have hunted down and identified exoplanets, those mysterious balls in the universe that orbit distant suns not too different from our own. They have discovered extremophiles, the extraordinary microbes that thrive in environments of intense heat or cold that may mimic the inhospitable conditions of other planets. They have landed rovers on Mars and detected its methane, a possible signature of past life. And they have created sophisticated equipment to sweep the sky for distant radio signals and to explore the deep icebound lakes of Antarctica. Each of these developments has brought forth a new generation of out-of-the-box researchers, adventurers, and thinkers who are each part Carl Sagan, part Indiana Jones, part Watson and Crick—and part forensic specialists on CSI: Mars.

In this masterful book, Kaufman takes us to the frontiers of astrobiology’s quest for extraterrestrial life and shows how this quest is inextricably linked with the quest to understand life on Earth. He takes us deep under the glaciers of Antarctica, into the mouth of an Alaskan volcano, and beneath the Earth into the unbearable heat of a South African mine, and leads us to the world’s driest desert. For thousands of years, humans have wondered about who and what might be living beyond the confines of our planet. First Contact transports us into the cosmos to bring those musings back to Earth and recast our humanity.
 

About Marc Kaufman

See more books from this Author
Marc Kaufman has been a journalist for more than 35 years, including the last twelve as a science and space writer, foreign correspondent and editor for The Washington Post. He is also author of "First Contact: Scientific Breakthroughs in the Hunt for Life Beyond Earth," published in 2011 by Simon & Schuster, and has spoken extensively to crowds across the United States and abroad about astrobiology. He lives outside Washington, D.C. with his wife, Lynn Litterine.
 
Published April 5, 2011 by Simon & Schuster. 224 pages
Genres: Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math. Non-fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for First Contact
All: 1 | Positive: 0 | Negative: 1

WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by Carl Zimmer on Apr 22 2011

Unfortunately, "First Contact" reads like a collection of newspaper articles that has not been fully transformed into a book-length narrative. The stories don't unfold—they leap forward, shift without warning and stop for no apparent reason.

Read Full Review of First Contact: Scientific Bre... | See more reviews from WSJ online

Reader Rating for First Contact
80%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 36 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review