For our October 16 meeting--note this is a WEDNESDAY--we'll discuss LUCKY PLANET: WHY EARTH IS EXCEPTIONAL--AND WHAT THAT MEANS FOR LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE, by David Waltham (Basic Books, 2014). Homemade treats will be served. You need not have attended a previous discussion to join us for this one.
The location of the discussion will be sent out a few days ahead to those who RSVP. If you haven't received it by the Sunday before the meeting, please call[masked]. We hope to see you there!
If you'd like to read ahead, on Nov. 26 we'll discuss THE NEWCOMERS: FINDING REFUGE, FRIENDSHIP AND HOPE IN AN AMERICAN CLASSROOM, by Helen Thorpe.
In LUCKY PLANET, astrobiologist David Waltham argues that Earth’s climate stability is one of the primary factors that makes it able to support life, and that nothing short of luck made such conditions possible. The four-billion-year stretch of good weather that our planet has experienced is statistically so unlikely, he shows, that chances are slim that we will ever encounter intelligent extraterrestrial others.
Describing the three factors that typically control a planet’s average temperature—the heat received from its star, how much heat the planet absorbs, and the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—Waltham paints a complex picture of how special Earth’s climate really is. He untangles the mystery of why, although these factors have shifted by such massive measures over the history of life on Earth, surface temperatures have never fluctuated so much as to make conditions hostile to life. Citing factors such as the size of our Moon and the effect of an ever-warming Sun, Waltham challenges the prevailing scientific consensus that other Earth-like planets have natural stabilizing mechanisms that allow life to flourish.
A lively exploration of the stars above and the ground beneath our feet, LUCKY PLANET seamlessly weaves the story of Earth and the worlds orbiting other stars to give us a new perspective of the surprising role chance plays in our place in the universe.