How Likely is Extraterrestrial Life?

  • J. Woods Halley

Part of the SpringerBriefs in Astronomy book series (BRIEFSASTRON)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. J. Woods Halley
    Pages 1-7
  3. Bottom Up: What We Learn from Basic Science About the Likelihood of Extraterrestrial Life

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 9-9
    2. J. Woods Halley
      Pages 11-17
    3. J. Woods Halley
      Pages 19-29
    4. J. Woods Halley
      Pages 31-56
  4. Top Down: What We Learn from the Failure of Attempts to Detect Extraterrestrial Life

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 57-57
    2. J. Woods Halley
      Pages 59-65
    3. J. Woods Halley
      Pages 67-79
    4. J. Woods Halley
      Pages 81-94
    5. J. Woods Halley
      Pages 95-106
  5. J. Woods Halley
    Pages 107-119
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 121-151

About this book


What does existing scientific knowledge about physics, chemistry, meteorology and biology tell us about the likelihood of extraterrestrial life and civilizations? And what does the fact that there is currently no credible scientific evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial biospheres or civilizations teach  us?

This book reviews the various scientific issues that arise in considering the question of how common extraterrestrial life is likely to be in our galaxy and whether humans are likely to detect it. The book stands out because of its very systematic organization and relatively unbiased treatment of the main open question. It covers all relevant aspects of many disciplines required to present the different   possible answers.

It has and will provide undergraduates with a stimulating introduction to many of these fields at an early stage in their university careers, when they are still choosing a specialty. The difficulties and the range of possible answers to the title question are carefully addressed in the light of present understanding. The resulting perspective is distinctly different from those suggested by most other books on this topic.


Chemical evolution of life Drake's equation discussed Extraterrestrial Life Life on extrasolar planets Panspermia hypothesis Rare Earth hypothesis SETI project Search for Extraterrestrial Life reviewed

Authors and affiliations

  • J. Woods Halley
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Minnesota, MNSchool of Physics and AstronomyMinneapolisUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Author(s) 2012
  • Publisher Name Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg
  • eBook Packages Physics and Astronomy
  • Print ISBN 978-3-642-22753-0
  • Online ISBN 978-3-642-22754-7
  • Series Print ISSN 2191-9100
  • Series Online ISSN 2191-9119
  • Buy this book on publisher's site