Lecturers &


Course textbook

  • "Astrobiology: A Multidisciplinary Approach", Jonathon I. Lunine, 2005, Pearson Education Inc.

General SETI books

  • "Here Be Dragons, The Scientific Search for Extra Terrestrials", Koener & Devay

  • "Sharing the Universe: Perspectives on Extraterrestrial Life", S. Shostak, 1998, Beverly Hills Books.
    Up to date introduction to the subject.

  • "Search for Life on Mars", M. Walter, 1999, Perseus Books.

  • "The Search for Life in the Universe", D. Goldsmith and T. Owen, 1992, Addison Wesley, 2nd edition.
    A good general introduction to the information needed to talk about the problem.

  • "The Quest for Extraterrestrial Life: a book of readings", D. Goldsmith, 1980, University Science Books. Gives a nice historical perspective and a range of modern opinions.

  • "Life on Other Worlds", S.J. Dick, 1998, Cambridge Univ. Press.
    History and Sociology of the ET debates from the western European and American point of view.

  • "Extraterrestrials: science and alien intelligence" edt. by E. Regis Jr., 1985, Cambridge Univ. Press.
    An excellent collection of articles with spectrum of good but opposing ideas.

  • "Are we Alone?" R.T. Rood, J.S. Trefil, 1981, Schribner.

  • "Intelligent Life in the Universe", I.S. Shklovski and C. Sagan, 1966.
    An old classic.

  • "Life in the Universe", edt. J. Billingham, 1981, MIT.

  • "Intelligent Life in Outer Space", R.N. Bracewell, 1974, W.H. Freeman.

  • "Life in the Universe", Scientific American, Oct. 1994.
    A special issue of Scientific American dedicated to this topic.

  • "Our Cosmic Origins", A. Delsemme, 1998, Cambridge Univ. Press.
    Good on comets and planet formation, mediocre on evolution.

Origin and Evolution of Life on Earth

  • "The Fifth Miracle: the search for the origin of life", P. Davies, 1998, Penguin.
    The Mars/Earth connection 3.5-4 billion years ago.

  • "Biogenesis, Theories of Life's Origin", Noam Lahav, 1999, Oxford University PRess

  • "Earth - Evolution of a Habitable World", Johathan I. Lunine, 1999, Cambridge University Press.

  • "Evolution of Hydrothermal Ecosystems on Earth (Mars?)", 1996, Ciba Foundation Symposium 202, Wiley.

  • "What is Life", E. Schrödinger, 1956, Doubleday.
    The original physicist's view of life.

  • "Origins of Life", F. Dyson, Cambridge Univ. Press.

  • "Steps Towards Life", M. Eigen, 1992, Oxford Univ. Press.
    Clear summaries of how to turn DNA sequences into phylogenetic trees, the importance of the error rate.

  • "Double Helix", J.D. Watson, 1991, Mass Market.
    Personal account of the discovery of DNA.

  • "The Selfish Gene", R. Dawkins, 1976, Oxford Univ. Press.
    An influential discussion of how genes, not us, are in control.

  • "What is Life", L. Margulis and D. Sagan, Simon and Schuster.
    Nicely illustrated discussion of the importance of pre-cambrian life.

  • "Seven steps towards the Origin of Life", A.G. Cairns-Smith, 1985.
    Well written text on the clay-origin of life by the guy who came up with the idea.

  • "Genetic Takeover", A.G. Cairns-Smith, 1982.

  • "Origins", H.Reeves, J. De Rosnay, Y. Coppens and D. Simmonet, 1996, Arcade.
    Interviews with France's finest on the origin of the universe, origin of life, and the origin of humanity.

  • "The Major Transitions in Evolution", J.M. Smith and E. Szathmary, 1995, W.H. Freeman.
    Authoritative but dense discussion of the chemical origin of life and cell organelles.

  • "The Outer Reaches of Life", J. Postgate, 1994, Cambridge Univ. Press.
    Accessible account of bacterial variety, a Guinness book of world records for the prokaryontes, written by a bacteriophile.

  • "Five Kingdoms", L. Margulis and K.V. Schwartz, 1982, W.H. Freeman.
    Well-illustrated classification of living organism.

  • "Brock's Biology of Microorganisms", 8th edition, M.T. Madigan, J.M. Martin and J. Parks, 1997, Prentice-Hall.
    The bible for beginning microbiologists.

  • "The Garden of Ediacara: Discovering the first complex life", M.A.S. McMenamin, 1998, Columbia Univ. Press.
    Just before the cambrian explosion this is what life looked like.

  • "The Evolution Revolution", K. McNamara, J. Long, 1988, Wiley.

  • "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" D.C. Dennett, 1995, Penguin.
    The best discussion of current debates in Darwinism.

  • "Full House", S.J. Gould, 1996, Three Rivers Press.
    Authoritative debunking of the idea of biological progress.

  • "Sex and the Origin of Death", W.R. Clark, 1996, Oxford Univ. Press.
    An explanation of how death and sex are intricately connected.

  • "Origin of Sex", L. Margulis and D. Sagan, 1986, Yale Univ. Press.

  • "Life: an unauthorised biography", R. Fortey, 1997, Flamingo.

  • "A walk through time", S. Liebes, E. Sahtouris, B Swimme, 1998, Wiley.

Extrasolar planets

  • "Other Worlds: The Search for Life in the Universe", M.D. Lemonick, 1998, Simon and Schuster.

  • "Planet Quest: The Epic Discovery of Alien Solar Systems", K. Croswell, 1997, Free Press.

  • "Worlds Unnumbered: The Search for Extrasolar Planets", D. Goldsmith and J. Lomberg, 1997, Univ. Science Books.

  • "The Quest for Alien Planets : Exploring Worlds Outside the Solar System", P. Halpern, 1997, Plenum Pr.

Gaia, the anthropic principle and other

  • "Gaia", J. Lovelock, 1979, Oxford Univ. Press.

  • "Ages of Gaia", J. Lovelock.

  • "Healing Gaia", J. Lovelock, 1991, Harmony.

  • "Scientists on Gaia", edt. S.H. Schneider and P.J. Boston, 1991, MIT.

  • "The Anthropic Principle", R. Breuer, 1991, Birkhauser.

  • "The cosmological anthropic principle", J. Barrow and F. Tipler.

  • "Life in the Universe", L. Smolin, Oxford Univ. Press.

  • "Evolution from Space", F. Hoyle and C. Wickramasinghe, 1981, Simon and Schuster.
    Panspermia; the origin of life was not on earth; genes from outer space.

  • "Destiny or Chance: Our Solar System and its Place in the Cosmos", S.R. Taylor, 1998, Cambridge Univ. Press.


  • "The non-prevalence humanoids" in "This View of Life", G.G. Simpson, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, the biologist's argument debunking naive SETI expectations of finding humanoids out there. Can also be found in D. Goldsmith's "The Quest for Extraterrestrail Life" a book of readings, 1998, University Science Books.

  • For plate tectonics "A History of the continents in the past three billion years", J.J.W. Rogers, Journal of Geology, 104, 1996, 91-107.

  • Astrobiology issue of Nature, 409, February 2001.