Book of the Month March 2020

Goldilocks and the Water Bears: The Search for Life in the Universe 

by Louisa Preston

Review by Goodreads:

Astrobiology is the study of life in the universe from its origins to its evolution into intelligent sentient beings. All life as we know it is carbon-based, reliant on sources of liquid water and energy for its survival, and as far as we are aware, exists only on Earth.

Our planet occupies a unique spot in the solar system. It is just the right distance from the Sun–within the so-called Goldilocks Zone–to be not too hot or too cold for liquid water to be stable on its surface, which, together with a protective shielding atmosphere, allowed the four-billion-year journey from a single-celled organism to an upright humanoid species. Most of primordial life, if seen today, would be classified as “alien,” as it bears little resemblance to anything that currently exists.

We can learn much about the possibilities of extraterrestrial life by studying life forms from our planet’s history and by exploring organisms still present in harsh environments on Earth that mimic those on other worlds. These organisms, called “extremophiles,” are directing our search for alien life throughout the solar system and beyond. Could we one day find Earth’s toughest animal, the microscopic water bear, living under the surface of another world? Goldilocks and the Water Bears is an accessible introduction to the most fascinating of all the astro-sciences–the quest to learn whether we are alone in the universe.

Louisa Preston is an astrobiologist and planetary geologist whose research has included the search for signs of life that could survive the harsh environments of Mars. She has a Ph.D. in astrobiology and planetary geology from Imperial College London and has completed two postdocs, working on space-mission simulations and the creation of a global database of Martian and lunar analog environments for the European Space Agency. Preston lives in London, England.

This book will be available at the conclusion of the March 9th RASC meeting.  The Lamplighter Library is just off the main entrance to the Zeidler Dome and is open before and after our meetings.