Astrobiology

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  • This is an unusual book, combining as it does papers on astrobiology, history of astronomy and sundials, but—after all—Woody Sullivan is an unusual man. In late 2003 I spent two fruitful and enjoyable months in the Astronomy Department at the University of Washington (UW) working on archival material accumulated over the decades by Woody, for a book we will co-author with Jessica Chapman on the early development of Australian astronomy.

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  • (BQ) Ebook Earth Evolution of a habitable world is described in the context of what we know about other planets and the cosmos at large, from the origin of the cosmos to the processes that shape planetary environments and from the origins of life to the inner workings of cells. Astronomy, earth science, planetary science and astrobiology are integrated to give students the whole picture of how the Earth has come to its present state and an understanding of the relationship between key ideas in different fields.

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  • Geobiology is a highly cross-disciplinary field that explores the present and past relationships that life has with non-living matter. “Biosphere meets Geosphere” per- haps most parsimoniously describes the fundamental con- cept of Geobiology. In 1991, Peter Westbroek, a Dutch paleontologist and influential protagonist of Geobiology defined the field in a book entitled “Life as a Geological Force: Dynamics of the Earth”, thus motivating a new way of thinking in the geosciences.

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  • A good model is provided by astrobiology, which studies the origin, evolution and distribution of life in the universe. Physicists, chemists, astronomers, earth scientists and biologists have been able to come to- gether to tackle such problems as how life began; whether life could exist on Mars, Europa or Titan; and what range of extreme environments micro-organisms may tolerate. So far, there has been little dialogue between cancer biologists and astrobiologists, but this is set to change.

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