Chapter 30 Life in the Universe

30.5 For Further Exploration



Chyba, C. “The New Search for Life in the Universe.” Astronomy (May 2010): 34. An overview of astrobiology and the search for life out there in general, with a brief discussion of the search for intelligence.

Dorminey, B. “A New Way to Search for Life in Space.” Astronomy (June 2014): 44. Finding evidence of photosynthesis on other worlds.

McKay, C., & Garcia, V. “How to Search for Life on Mars.” Scientific American (June 2014): 44–49. Experiments future probes could perform.

Reed, N. “Why We Haven’t Found Another Earth Yet.” Astronomy (February 2016): 25. On the search for smaller earthlike planets in their star’s habitable zones, and where we stand.

Shapiro, R. “A Simpler Origin of Life.” Scientific American (June 2007): 46. New ideas about what kind of molecules formed first so life could begin.

Simpson, S. “Questioning the Oldest Signs of Life.” Scientific American (April 2003): 70. On the difficulty of interpreting biosignatures in rocks and the implications for the search for life on other worlds.


Chandler, D. “The New Search for Alien Intelligence.” Astronomy (September 2013): 28. Review of various ways of finding other civilizations out there, not just radio wave searches.

Crawford, I. “Where Are They?” Scientific American (July 2000): 38. On the Fermi paradox and its resolutions, and on galactic colonization models.

Folger, T. “Contact: The Day After.” Scientific American (January 2011): 40–45. Journalist reports on efforts to prepare for ET signals; protocols and plans for interpreting messages; and discussions of active SETI.

Kuhn, J., et al. “How to Find ET with Infrared Light.” Astronomy (June 2013): 30. On tracking alien civilizations by the heat they put out.

Lubick, N. “An Ear to the Stars.” Scientific American (November 2002): 42. Profile of SETI researcher Jill Tarter.

Nadis, S. “How Many Civilizations Lurk in the Cosmos?” Astronomy (April 2010): 24. New estimates for the terms in the Drake equation.

Shostak, S. “Closing in on E.T.” Sky & Telescope (November 2010): 22. Nice summary of current and proposed efforts to search for intelligent life out there.



Astrobiology Web:  A news site with good information and lots of material.

Exploring Life’s Origins: . A website for the Exploring Origins Project, part of the multimedia exhibit of the Boston Museum of Science. Explore the origin of life on Earth with an interactive timeline, gain a deeper knowledge of the role of RNA, “build” a cell, and explore links to learn more about astrobiology and other related information.

History of Astrobiology: By Marc Kaufman, on the NASA Astrobiology site.

Life, Here and Beyond: . By Marc Kaufman, on the NASA Astrobiology site.


Berkeley SETI Research Center: . The University of California group recently received a ?100 million grant from a Russian billionaire to begin the Breakthrough: Listen project.

Fermi Paradox: . Could we be alone in our part of the Galaxy or, more dramatic still, could we be the only technological society in the universe? A useful discussion.

Planetary Society: . This advocacy group for exploration has several pages devoted to the search for life.

SETI Institute: . A key organization in the search for life in the universe; the institute’s website is full of information and videos about both astrobiology and SETI.

SETI: . Sky & Telescope magazine offers good articles on this topic.



Copernicus Complex: Are We Special in the Cosmos?:  A video of a popular-level talk by Caleb Scharf of Columbia University (1:18:54).


Life at the Edge: Life in Extreme Environments on Earth and the Search for Life in the Universe: . A video of a 2009 nontechnical lecture by Lynn Rothschild of NASA Ames Research Center (1:31:21).


Saturn’s Moon Titan: A World with Rivers, Lakes, and Possibly Even Life: . A video of a 2011 talk by Chris McKay of NASA Ames Research Center (1:23:33).


Allen Telescope Array: The Newest Pitchfork for Exploring the Cosmic Haystack: A 2013 popular-level lecture by Jill Tarter of the SETI Institute (1:45:55).

Confessions of an Alien Hunter: . Interview with Seth Shostak from SETI

Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence: Necessarily a Long-Term Strategy: . 2004 talk by Jill Tarter at the Long Now Foundation (1:21:13).

Search for Intelligent Life Among the Stars: New Strategies: A 2010 nontechnical talk by Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute (1:29:58).



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