The Possibility of Life

Searching for Kinship in the Cosmos

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Pub Date 6 Apr 2023 | Archive Date 9 Mar 2023

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For fans of Ed Yong, Brian Cox and Carl Zimmer: a dazzling scientific and cultural adventure through our ideas about extraterrestrial life and the cosmos


One of the most powerful questions we ask about the cosmos is: Are we alone?

The Possibility of Life traces our scientific understanding of what and where life in the universe could be, from Galileo and Copernicus through to our current tracking of exoplanets in the ‘Goldilocks zone’, where life akin to ours on Earth might exist. Along the way, Jaime Green studies insights from a long tradition of science fiction that uses imagination to extrapolate worlds, in turn inspiring scientists and their research.

Bringing together expert interviews, cutting-edge astronomy, philosophical enquiry and pop culture touchstones ranging from A Wrinkle in Time to Star Trek, The Possibility of Life delves into our evolving conception of the cosmos to pose an even deeper question: What does it mean to be human?

For fans of Ed Yong, Brian Cox and Carl Zimmer: a dazzling scientific and cultural adventure through our ideas about extraterrestrial life and the cosmos


One of the most powerful questions...

Advance Praise

'Thoughtful, witty and profound – a dazzling feat of imagination and synthesis that had me hooked from the first page'

ED YONG, author of An Immense World

'Utterly gripping, endlessly surprising… Green is the best company I could imagine for this journey to the limits of what we can imagine'

LESLIE JAMISON, author of The Empathy Exams

'Thoughtful, witty and profound – a dazzling feat of imagination and synthesis that had me hooked from the first page'

ED YONG, author of An Immense World

'Utterly gripping, endlessly surprising… Green...

Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9780715654811
PRICE £20.00 (GBP)

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Average rating from 12 members

Featured Reviews

The Possibility of Life reads like a history of the search for life within the universe and a guide to how or where it could possibly exist.

I loved how Jaime Green gave a little background or history on each subject before elaborating on the possibilities of existence that are out there and also its wider effect on humankind. Occasionally there were hand drawn illustrations, which I found were helpful in gaining a better understanding on some of the subject matter.

I felt that the writing was complex but still fully understandable throughout. This seems to be a rare occurrence in book of this type and make this very book accessible to a wider audience, without watering things down.

If you have any interest in the possibility of life away from earth, astronomy or just a lose interest in science then this could be a book for you.

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10% in and I’m worried the The Possibility of Life is missing the… possibilities. I feel like I’m reading a book report. It’s missing warmth and, at the moment, is just delivering dry information. Due to such heavy reflection on narratives that have come before, I’m struggling to understand the narrator’s point of view. The pop-culture references are delivered in a way that fails to evoke nostalgia, further alienating me. It’s missing the relatability achieved by books like Sapiens.

Thank god for Chapter 2! Theia slamming into Earth. Finally getting to feel the joy in what the author has to say. That little note to Google a simulation has saved this book. The anecdotes and the little drawings. That’s what a book like this needs. It makes a high brow topic accessible and enjoyable. To feel the author’s wonder and awe as your own. Very nearly DNF on Chapter 1 but glad to have been able to enjoy the rest of the book.

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As a self-proclaimed nerd who frequently immerses themself in science fiction, as well as science fact, I loved this book. It is a warm hug of non-fiction, scattered throughout with references (although most of them are explained - you definitely don't need a comprehensive knowledge of science fiction to enjoy it!) It felt like a conversation with a friend, laying out the facts of the search and speculating excitedly about the possibilities. Green comes at this topic with a real sense of warmth and excitement, evident throughout. I've also come away from this with a few additions to my reading list!

I've never before thought a non-fiction book may become a comfort read, but Green's hopeful but realistic approach to the topic was as comforting as it was interesting. Would definitely recommend.

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This is one of those books that talks about life in the Universe, science and you read them like a novel.
Informative, well researched, easy to follow and gripping.
An excellent non fiction book.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine

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This book asks some fascinating questions that I think almost all of us have considered at some time. Is there life beyond Earth? If so, will it be intelligent and will it communicate with us like on Star Trek?

To answer these questions Jaime Green has to go right back to basics: what is life anyway? Will we recognise it when we see it? Green explores everything from how life might have evolved on earth to our attempts at communication with non-human animals to representation of aliens in popular culture.

A very enjoyable and thought-provoking book that I absolutely zoomed through. Five stars from me.

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Honestly, it feels like this book was written for me. Science-fiction has been my favourite genre for most of my life, and as soon as I was this book I knew I had to read it.

For something that had the potential to be something dry - Jaime Green skillfully weaves us through scientific theory to philosophy to psychology and paints a fascinating picture of that age-old question: are we alone in the universe? With personal anecdotes and interviews with scientists, psychologists and researchers, Green's writing allows us to dive deep into the questions of our own position in the universe, and how science and science-fiction shape that cultural question.

I particularly enjoyed the chapters on our assumptions on evolution and the way we could be completely wrong about so many things. It really put it into perspective how little we know, or rather how little we should take for granted our own understanding of the world, since Earth is the only thing we know.

The Possibility of Life was a wonderful book that will surely intrigue anyone with interest in science or science-fiction, and I look forward to reading anyone else by Jaime Green.

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The Possibility of Life is a carefully researched and fascinating summary of all aspects of finding life in the cosmos, and how life emerged here on earth. If you're already well versed in these areas then this book probably isn't for you. But if you're looking for a overview of current science on where alien life might be found, how we'll communicate with them and what they could look like, then this is a great starter!

This book was equal parts engrossing and a slow burn for me, as I wanted to really understand the information but at the same time found that I could only read it in short bursts before my brain got too full. I remember learning about the "primordial soup" theory of life on earth's origins when I was in high school, so it was great to see how far our scientific understanding of this process has progressed and evolved over the years. The book explained high level scientific information really clearly, and the use of examples from pop culture and science fiction really enhanced these explanations.

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