Published April 03, 2012
Is there anyone out there?
A popular publisher of travel guidebooks looks to answer just that question. Forget Barcelona, Thailand, and African safaris. Your next destination? Mars, the cosmos and beyond.
The Search for Aliens: A Rough Guide to Life on Other Worlds is perhaps the last thing you would expect from a company that specializes in travel guides but the book, written highly acclaimed science writer Piers Bizony, is a scientific journey into a fundamental question: Are we alone?
To put it another way, do aliens exist?
Of course, the guide provides no concrete answers, instead offering a more practical premise: that we may be closer than ever to finding out.
Structured like a typical travel guide, the book provides the educational building blocks first for even beginning to tackle the problem: providing a brief history of the search for extraterrestrials, and understanding what “life” actually is from a scientific perspective.
It then looks to examine our modern day strategy for locating the unknown: the latest research projects, cool radio technologies, and the theoretical research that drives everything forward.
The guide also touches upon peripheral ideas about aliens and life, such as the concept of "panspermia" -- did comets and asteroids bring life to Earth in the first place?
While you won’t be able to hop from location to location to see firsthand the places and people described -- it’s not an actual travel guide, one of a new-ish series of reference books from the well-known travel publisher -- the book does provide a solid scientific overview on a subject often riddled with myth, speculation and even misinformation.
Bizony as a writer is friendly but informative. He has won NASA’s Eugene Emme Ward award for Astronautical writing for his book chronicling the Mars Viking hunt for life in the 1970s, The Rivers of Mars: Searching for the Cosmic Origins of Life.