From the list on the history of the universe and the life in it.
Who am I?
I have loved astronomy since high school when I built my first telescope. I subsequently have been lucky enough to become a professional astronomer. I studied physics and astronomy at Utrecht University. After obtaining my PhD, I was postdoc at Lick Observatory in California, and after that became professor of astronomy, first in Brussels and later in Amsterdam. I have always loved teaching as well as my research on the physics and formation and evolution of neutron stars and black holes in binary systems, on which I, together with my Danish colleague Thomas Tauris, published the first textbook, which came out in 2023 in the USA.
Edward's book list on the history of the universe and the life in it
Discover why each book is one of Edward's favorite books.
Why did Edward love this book?
While in the 1960s Carl Sagan and Frank Drake, based on a simple equation (“Drake’s equation”) concluded that intelligent life is abundant in the Galaxy, with as many as a million such civilizations with which we might be able to communicate, the thesis of this book is that intelligent life is exceedingly rare in the Universe.
The authors do not argue that life itself is rare. Their thesis is that simple life, such as single-celled organisms like bacteria, may have developed on billions of planets in the Galaxy. But that, on the other hand, animal life on land (multicellular creatures, able to move around) is exceedingly rare. And that these animals developing intelligence is still very much rarer.
The arguments which the authors put forward are based on what we know from the history of life on Earth in connection with the very special position of Earth in our planetary…