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Origins of Life: A Cosmic Perspective presents an overview of the concepts, methods, and theories of astrobiology and origins of life research while presenting a summary of the latest findings. The book provides insight into the environments and processes that gave birth to life on our planet, which naturally informs our assessment of the probability that has arisen (or will arise) elsewhere. In addition, the book encourages readers to go beyond basic concepts, to explore topics in greater depth, and to engage in lively discussions.The text is intended to be suitable for mid- and upper-level undergraduates and beginning graduate students and more generally as an introduction and overview for researchers and general readers seeking to follow current developments in this interdisciplinary field. Readers are assumed to have a basic grounding in the relevant sciences, but prior specialized knowledge is not required. Each chapter concludes with a list of questions and discussion topics as well as suggestions for further reading. Some questions can be answered with reference to material in the text, but others require further reading and some have no known answers. The intention is to encourage readers to go beyond basic concepts, to explore topics in greater depth, and, in a classroom setting, to engage in lively discussions with class members.
Acerca de Douglas Whittet
Doug Whittet, PhD, is Emeritus Professor of Physics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He obtained his bachelor and doctoral degrees in Physics and Astronomy, respectively, from the University of St. Andrews and was Senior Lecturer and Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Central Lancashire prior to joining the Rensselaer faculty in 1991. He served as director of the New York Center for Astrobiology from 2009 to 2016. His research interests include the physics and chemistry of the interstellar medium, with a focus on the chemical inventories of preplanetary matter in the disks and envelopes of newly-formed stars. In the course of his research, he was a principal investigator of observing programs with the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Infrared Space Observatory. He also has a strong interest in undergraduate education and curriculum development in astronomy and related fields, a product of which is the course on which this book is based. Origins of Life: A Cosmic Perspective has been taught at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute each academic year since 1995 – although it has, like the field itself, evolved dramatically over the years!
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