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Publisher's Summary

Since its formation nearly five billion years ago, our planet has been the sole living world in a vast and silent universe. Now, Earth's isolation is coming to an end. Over the past two decades, astronomers have discovered thousands of "exoplanets" orbiting other stars, including some that could be similar to our own world. Studying those distant planets for signs of life will be crucial to understanding life's intricate mysteries right here on Earth. In a firsthand account of this unfolding revolution, Lee Billings draws on interviews with top researchers. He reveals how the search for other Earth-like planets is not only a scientific pursuit, but also a reflection of our culture's timeless hopes, dreams, and fears. This is a compelling story of the pioneers seeking the meaning of life in the infinite depths of space.

©2013 Lee Billings (P)2013 Tantor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Bloated

This book can be easily reduced to two good essays: "The origin and the future of the Earth" and "A search for planets around stars." Tht's what I took away from this book - but only after listening to endless flourishes, personal profiles of various scientists, etc, etc... This book has substance, but is way too long and unpruned,

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Meandering but interesting

Any additional comments?

3.5 stars. This is essentially a summary of the current state of affairs as regards the search for extraterrestrial life, though (as other reviewers have noted) the author meanders across sciences. I usually find geology history rather interesting, but it stretched my patience in this book. In addition, I felt that the author put far too much effort into building artistic prose and 'personalizing' the story through the lives of the researchers that he interviewed…no offense to the author, but I'd rather focus on the science and skip the human interest pieces. Ultimately the outlook is, at the moment, rather dour as far as space exploration and SETI goes: NASA lacks the budget for major missions, and SETI is similarly struggling for funding.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael
  • Haymarket, VA, United States
  • 12-01-13

Absolutely horrible

What would have made Five Billion Years of Solitude better?

Didn't tell me anything I didn't already know or haven't read elsewhere. Hardly ground-breaking, eye-opening or revealing. Enough whining about SETI already. We have found exoplanets by other means. Talking about how these exoplanets were discovered, the conditions thereon, and the number of exoplanets discovered to-date would have been FAR more captivating.

What didn’t you like about Lee Billings’s performance?

The performance was fine. The book's content was awful

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Five Billion Years of Solitude?

I'd have mentioned what a dead-end SETI is, then moved on to how exoplanets WERE discovered, instead of whining about the past.

Any additional comments?

Can I return this book? This was a horrible mistake.

1 of 9 people found this review helpful