The Secret Life of the Universe: An Astrobiologist's Search for the Origins and Frontiers of Life (Hardcover)

The Secret Life of the Universe: An Astrobiologist's Search for the Origins and Frontiers of Life By Nathalie A. Cabrol Cover Image

The Secret Life of the Universe: An Astrobiologist's Search for the Origins and Frontiers of Life (Hardcover)


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One of the world’s leading astrobiologists takes us on an awe-inspiring journey across the cosmos to investigate some of humanity’s most profound questions: Are we alone in the universe? And, how did life on Earth begin?

We are in a golden age in astronomy, living on the cusp of breakthroughs that will revolutionize our understanding of our place in the cosmos in. Yet a profound question remains: Are we alone in the universe?

We have never been closer to answering this question. In The Secret Life of the Universe, astrobiologist and the director of the Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute Nathalie A. Cabrol takes us to the frontiers of the search for life. The book’s odyssey begins by exploring how life began on Earth in order to understand what’s necessary for its existence elsewhere. What role did our Moon play? And could life on Mars have seeded life on Earth?

Cabrol continues this dazzling interplanetary tour, illuminating the likeliest places for life in our neighborhood: While Mars and the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn are among the top contenders, recent missions are redefining the limits of habitability to include unexpected worlds. Finally, we seek life beyond our Solar System, becoming witness to a revolution in the night sky: the realization that there are as many planets as stars in our galaxy. With more than 300 million exoplanets in the habitable zone of their stars in the Milky Way alone, to think we are alone, or the only advanced intelligent civilization, may be little more than nonsense.

The Secret Life of the Universe is a comprehensive and authoritative guide to the search for life. This is an exhilarating journey for anyone who has ever looked up at the stars and wondered what might be out there.
Nathalie A. Cabrol is a French-American explorer and astrobiologist and the Director of the Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute. She researches habitability and life beyond Earth, develops science exploration strategies for NASA for Mars and Titan, designs robotic field tests, and leads projects in planetary science and astrobiology. Cabrol documents life’s adaptation to extreme environments and the effects of rapid climate change. She has written over six hundred peer-reviewed publications and conference proceedings and has published four books on planetary science. Cabrol also holds the women’s world record for free and scuba diving at altitude. Born in France, she lives in California.
Product Details ISBN: 9781668046685
ISBN-10: 1668046687
Publisher: Scribner
Publication Date: August 13th, 2024
Pages: 320
Language: English
“Some people are in the enviable position of loving their work. Cabrol is one of them, and it shows in this wonderfully sweeping book… This is a book for anyone with an interest in scientific discovery and a perfect choice for any budding astronomer or astrobiologist. Combining enthusiasm and knowledge, Cabrol gives a lovely guided tour of the possibilities of the cosmos.” Kirkus, starred review

“In this cutting-edge, wide-ranging survey of a truly extraordinary subject, the celebrated scientist Nathalie Cabrol takes us on an odyssey full of astonishing possibility, crossing vast distances and many scales to tell the story of our search for extraterrestrial life. The Secret Life of the Universe weaves together the history of space exploration, planetary science, the changing technological and intellectual frameworks of SETI, and deliberations on the very nature and meaning of life. It’s a mind-altering and exhilarating read for anyone who has ever wondered: are we alone?"—Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk

“Of all the popular books on the search for life that are now being published, this one is quite special. Written by an outstanding astrobiologist, Dr. Nathalie Cabrol, The Secret Life of the Universe takes you step by step through each of the top candidates in the solar system and beyond into the Milky Way where life could exist, and how we are looking for it. Nathalie tackles advanced concepts and explains them with ease. I highly recommend this book!” —James L. Green, former NASA chief scientist

“In The Secret Life of the Universe, astrobiologist Nathalie Cabrol takes us on a sweeping exploration of life on Earth and the potential of the universe to harbor life beyond our planet. Drawing on the latest space missions and ground-based studies, she paints a picture of habitability over time perhaps reaching from the inner edge of our solar system to its outermost depths and from its earliest days to the present.  Beyond our solar system, she charts the potential for habitability and even civilizations on countless exoplanets orbiting stars similar to and different from our sun. The nature of life as well as the practical and ethical dilemmas we face as a technological space-faring society are also part of the journey we take with her through the pages of this stimulating and provocative book.” —Carl B. Pilcher, Former Director of NASA's Astrobiology Institute