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The Cosmic Zoo

Complex Life on Many Worlds

  • Dirk Schulze-Makuch
  • William Bains

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. The Cosmic Zoo Hypothesis

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, William Bains
      Pages 3-12
    3. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, William Bains
      Pages 13-32
  3. Major Transitions in Earth’s Life History

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 33-33
    2. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, William Bains
      Pages 35-52
    3. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, William Bains
      Pages 53-68
    4. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, William Bains
      Pages 69-76
    5. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, William Bains
      Pages 77-94
    6. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, William Bains
      Pages 95-105
    7. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, William Bains
      Pages 107-120
    8. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, William Bains
      Pages 121-136
    9. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, William Bains
      Pages 137-162
    10. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, William Bains
      Pages 163-177
  4. Are There Visitors in the Cosmic Zoo?

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 179-179
    2. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, William Bains
      Pages 181-200
    3. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, William Bains
      Pages 201-206
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 207-232

About this book

Introduction

Are humans a galactic oddity, or will complex life with human abilities develop on planets with environments that remain habitable for long enough? In a clear, jargon-free style, two leading researchers in the burgeoning field of astrobiology critically examine the major evolutionary steps that led us from the distant origins of life to the technologically advanced species we are today.

Are the key events that took life from simple cells to astronauts unique occurrences that would be unlikely to occur on other planets? By focusing on what life does - it's functional abilities - rather than specific biochemistry or anatomy, the authors provide plausible answers to this question. Systematically exploring the various pathways that led to the complex biosphere we experience on planet Earth, they show that most of the steps along that path are likely to occur on any world hosting life, with only two exceptions: One is the origin of life itself – if this is a highly improbable event, then we live in a rather “empty universe”. However, if this isn’t the case, we inevitably live in a universe containing a myriad of planets hosting complex as well as microbial life - a “cosmic zoo”. The other unknown is the rise of technologically advanced beings, as exemplified on Earth by humans. Only one technological species has emerged in the roughly 4 billion years life has existed on Earth, and we don’t know of any other technological species elsewhere. If technological intelligence is a rare, almost unique feature of Earth's history, then there can be no visitors to the cosmic zoo other than ourselves.

Schulze-Makuch and Bains take the reader through the history of life on Earth, laying out a consistent and straightforward framework for understanding why we should think that advanced, complex life exists on planets other than Earth. They provide a unique perspective on the question that puzzled the human species for centuries: are we alone? 

Keywords

Cosmic Biology Origin of Life Rare Earth Evolution of complex life forms Life in the Universe Functional evolution Fermi paradox

Authors and affiliations

  • Dirk Schulze-Makuch
    • 1
  • William Bains
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics (ZAA)Technical University BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Rufus Scientific Ltd.Melbourn, RoystonUnited Kingdom

Bibliographic information

  • DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-62045-9
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing AG 2017
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Physics and Astronomy
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-62044-2
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-62045-9
  • Buy this book on publisher's site