Beyond UFOs by Jeffrey Bennett
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Beyond UFOs Chosen as 2008 Summer Reading Book for Miami University of Ohio (review by Amanda Hazenfield, Class of 2008): I began reading Beyond UFOs outside under the sun with my roommates around me doing homework of their own. Being seniors, we are very willing to share with each other the things that we learn and find most interesting. As I read this book, I think I interrupted them like every five minutes to share. I had always liked science, but had preferred English and languages over those subjects. So, reading this, I did not know what to expect, and that was probably a good thing. I was blown away by what I was reading. Everything was put into terms that even a non-science major could understand. The pictures that I formed in my head from these images and the ones that he provides in the book, opened up my mind to all the possibilities that are out there in the universe. It's quite like the feeling that I got in first coming to college. Not really knowing what I would be doing and what experiences I would have, but I knew that the possibilities were all there for me to succeed.

Publisher's Weekly Starred Review: In cogent and entertaining language, astrophysicist and popular writer Bennett (On the Cosmic Horizon) explains that the determining factor in whether we can locate intelligent life elsewhere in the universe is whether such a civilization-and our own-can continue long enough to develop the highly sophisticated technology needed for interstellar travel. If humans are going to meet that challenge, Bennett argues, we must solve "global warming, debilitating disease, terrorism, poverty, and war. We must use our compassion to teach all people to respect all others, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or gender." This political message is couched in fascinating and completely accessible science. Bennett does a wonderful job of explaining the conditions necessary for simple life, how we might discern its existence and where we should be looking. He then does the same thing for intelligent life. While he is fair to those who believe life is incredibly rare, he makes a compelling case that life is likely to be abundant.

Books & Culture (Review by Jennifer Wiseman): Beyond UFOs is a rich, slow, and rewarding read. Rich because it is full of some of the most interesting current interdisciplinary science regarding planets and life that you can find, blending astronomy, geology, history, and astrobiology in a single narrative. Slow because each page is so full of interesting content that you don't want to skim. Rewarding because Bennett is simply a fantastic writer and presenter, making the read thoroughly enjoyable. No science expertise required.

The Observatory (Review by Elizabeth Griffin): Beyond UFOs gives a good impression from the moment you first take it into your hands. It is attractively produced, well written, and very thoroughly proofread. It's an interesting and challenging complement to focused research, and will be particularly enjoyed by anyone who has an appetite for broad science tinged with morals.

New Scientist (review by Michael Brooks): [Jeffrey Bennett] has taken a break from the treadmill of updating his textbook and has written a popular book instead, bringing the rest of us up to date on our extraordinary new and expanded universe--and on who else might live in it . . . Beyond UFOs is crammed with neat analogies, startling imagery and mind-blowing illustrations of astronomical concepts. If you want to understand the universe and our place in it, you will not find a better primer. The first diagram alone--which shows how Earth's 10,000-kilometre span of real estate fits into a supercluster of galaxies a billion trillion kilometers across--bear a good 10 minutes of study. This truth is astonishing, and humbling--and Beyond UFOs is a great place to find it.

Seattle Times (review by Fred Bortz): [Beyond UFOs] delivers a combination that is hard to beat: solid yet highly speculative science plus accessible prose that add up to an out-of-this-world reading experience.

Times (London) Higher Education (review by Lisa Jardine-Wright): Bennett presents this awe-inspiring topic in a scientifically accurate but personal way. I would recommend it to anyone interested in reading a creative summary of the status of the search for life elsewhere in the universe and would hope that it might provide a starting point to inspire the next generation of astronomers and astrobiologists.

Michael Shermer, publisher of "Skeptic" and columnist for "Scientific American": With the possible exception of the God question, I can think of no subject that has inspired such wide-eyed wonder and speculation as the matter of whether or not we are alone in the cosmos. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence today has almost theological status in terms of its implications, and yet it is a rigorous science conducted by world-class scientists. Jeffrey Bennett's book is one of the finest primers on this burgeoning new field. And even though this can be a technically daunting science, Bennett's highly readable prose invites everyone into the dome to gaze through the telescope to have a look for themselves, for this is a journey we are all on together.

James F. Kasting, Pennsylvania State University: Bennett describes the search for life beyond the Earth in terms that are accessible to the nonscientist and yet reveal a broad understanding of the evolution of stars, planets, and organisms. The author's optimism is contagious. May it help inspire us to actually accomplish these lofty goals.

Christopher McKay, NASA Ames Research Center: Precise, accurate, lucid, and engaging. This is popular-science writing at its best.

The Boston Globe (review by Matthew Battles): Bennett walks us through the daunting calculations that lead to the conclusion that the existence of life elsewhere is not only possible, but highly likely. But as we wonder where else life exists and what forms it might take, scientists are forced back to more fundamental questions. What is the nature of life itself? Will we know it if we see it?...Bennett offers a host of lessons here not only about global warming and environmental degradation, but our place in the universe as well.

Astronomy Now (review by Steve Ringwood): This exploration of potential alien life is a timely work, just as the steadily increasing discoveries of extra-solar planets makes the possibility of finding alien life more plausible. . . . [Beyond UFOs] is a fully rounded examination of the subject, accessible to all. I guarantee that after reading this book you will be watching space probe results that much more closely. And maybe, you will be watching the skies too!

The Coalition for Space Exploration: This is a highly readable and enjoyable book that centers on astrobiology--a discipline that melds astronomy, biology, geology--and a little bit of luck--to explore the prospect of life on other worlds. . . . Bennett is an excellent writer, taking the reader on an exploration quest to find alien life, and how difficult solar system sleuthing can be, such as on Mars, Jupiter's Europa, or on Saturn's Titan. You'll also find an excellent treatment on current activities surrounding the on-going search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

Choice (Review by B.R. Parker): Particularly enjoyable is the down-to-earth writing; Bennett, an astrophysicist, author, and educator, tells the reader exactly how he feels about various topics (even the role of God in the scheme of things). Readers may not agree with everything he says, but he does offer food for thought.

David Morrison, coauthor of "The Planetary System and Voyages to the Planets": This is a fascinating book about the living universe, well-written and timely.

Todd Neff, author of From Jars to the Stars: Jeff Bennett is one of our great science communicators, an astrophysics Ph.D. with an uncommon gift for rendering opaque subjects in compelling, accessible prose. With Beyond UFOs, Bennett has achieved something special. The volume spans seamlessly topics as diverse as radio astronomy, molecular biology, geophysics and science history, building a convincing case for his belief -- and clearly his hope -- that life is pervasive in the universe.