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216 × 138 × 26 mm
272 pages
3 illustrations
01 Aug 2017
  • £16.95

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Planet Hunters The search for extraterrestrial life Lucas Ellerbroek
Translated by Andy Brown

Astronomers are on the verge of answering one of the most profound questions ever asked: are we alone in the universe? The ability to detect life in remote solar systems is at last within sight. Its discovery, even if only in microbial form, would revolutionize our self-image. Planet Hunters tells a delightful tale of smart-alec nerds, the search for extraterrestrial life and the history of an academic discipline.

Professional astronomer Lucas Ellerbroek takes readers on a fantastic voyage through space, time, history and the future. He describes the field of exoplanet research in its proper historical perspective, from the early ideas of sixteenth-century heretic Giordano Bruno and the rise of science fiction to the discovery of the first exoplanet in 1995 and the invention of the Kepler space telescope.

He travels the world to talk to leading scientists in the field, including first exoplanet discoverer Michel Mayor, NASA Kepler mission scientist Bill Borucki and MIT astrophysicist Sara Seager.

Presenting cutting-edge research in a dynamic, fun and accessible way, this book will appeal to everyone with an interest in astronomy and space.

‘In this delightful scientific chronicle of humanity’s quest for “other worlds”, astronomer Lucas Ellerbroek mixes memoir, history and meetings with remarkable planet hunters.’ — Nature

‘It seems as though we’re discovering new exoplanets regularly, but one thing we haven’t found yet is life on them (let’s be real: That is probably going to take a very long time). But that doesn’t mean we’re not looking. Astronomer Lucas Ellerbroek takes readers on a journey through the history of looking through telescopes and searching for exoplanets, discussing the discovery of the first in 1995. It’s the history of exoplanets and a search for alien life, speaking with some of the people at the frontiers of this field.’ — Unbound Worlds, Best Science Books of Summer 2017

‘Ellerbroek is the Jacques Cousteau of the universe.’ — Jelle Brandt Corstius

‘A compelling adventure full of surprising details that show why astronomy is so fascinating.’ — Professor Robbert Dijkgraaf

‘Ellerbroek describes this voyage of discovery with enthusiastic energy.’ — NRC Handelsblad

‘From the burning of Giordano Bruno in 1600 for stating the universe was infinite to the launching of the Kepler satellite in 2009, this book recounts the search for planets outside the Solar System, known as exoplanets. Ellerbroek blends history and personal interviews with today's leading researchers, resulting in a uniquely personable approach that does not skimp on science . . . This is an excellent read for anyone interested in exoplanet research and the astronomers who pursue it. A thorough list of references and chapter bibliographies provide direction for serious readers, though the text is accessible enough for the general reader as well . . . Highly recommended.’ — Choice

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Astronomer Lucas Ellerbroek is a researcher in comets and planet formation at the University of Amsterdam. He has written a number of popular articles on space exploration and is well known for his television appearances and TedX talks.

Introduction: New Marbles

1 The Century of Bruno

2 The Little Sand Reckoner

3 An Inquisitive Mind and Defective Sight

4 The Order of the Dolphin

5 The Tenacious Inventor

6 A Planet in Pegasus

7 The Hut in the Car Park

8 Goldilocks and the Red Dwarfs

9 Beer in Space

10 The Space Rebels

11 The Planetary Circus

Glossary of Terms