Saturday, July 2, 2016

All These Worlds Are Yours | Jon Willis

*Image and book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Jon Willis, associate professor of astronomy, takes us on a quest to find life outside of Earth. To do so, he has us start with identifying life on Earth, as well as the history of life on Earth. Then he takes us to look at other planets and moons within our own system, before taking us to look further out. All the while asking us, where should we start in our search for life, while staying within budget?


When I first picked up this book, I was worried it was going to be a repeat of The Aliens Are Coming! which I reviewed earlier this year. Instead, I got presented with a question I think everyone interested in the search for extraterrestrial life should be asked: You've got a budget of $4 billion, how do you spend it to search for life? Willis admits to asking this question of all of his astrobiology students and he uses this to form the backbone of the book. Each chapter involves talking about the pros and cons of searching here, there or elsewhere as well as determining what it is we'd be looking for.

Each chapter held new-to-me information about the history of each planet, moon and star candidates for exploration. I was especially delighted to learn about how various terrains in Antarctica can, and have been used for learning more about how to get samples or what life may look like on other planets. 

Probably my favorite part about this book is Willis' tone. If he lectures how he writes, I'd be happy to attend his classes. He mixes in humor and relatability with almost every section, increasing the readability of the overall book. The last chapter was especially attention grabbing, giving information on so many planned missions to the places we had just talked about looking for life. I also appreciated that he didn't disown SETI as a possibility. He acknowledges that it's not where he'd put his money, but he likes the fact that so many people are willing to donate computer time/power to the search because, well, you never know.

I happily give All These Worlds Are Yours 4 hoots and encourage anyone interested in the search for extra-terrestrial life to give it a read.


                Hoot! Hoot!

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