Becca’s Reading List: Armchair Scientist – Outer Space

Aliens: The World’s Leading Scientists on the Search for Extraterrestrial Life
By Jim Al-Khalili
Is there anybody out there? Are we all alone in the cosmos? Science hasn’t answered this question yet, but it’s not for lack of trying. This book contains essays from some of the world’s leading astrophysicists, cosmologists, geneticists and NASA planetary scientists as they examine the latest theories and evidence related to extraterrestrial beings.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
by Neil deGrasse Tyson
This little book tackles the big questions: What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? Anyone who has ever stared at the stars and wondered where it all began will enjoy this brief volume by Neil deGrasse Tyson as he outlines the basics of astrophysics for us laypeople. Prose is witty, concise, and packed with information on the cosmos.

A Big Bang in a Little Room: The Quest to Create New Universes
by Zeeya Merali
This book asks a startling question: What would you do if you had the power to build a whole new universe? The world’s leading physicists believe they may be only a decade or so away from having the ability to do just that — to create a brand new “baby universe” inside a laboratory! Author and leading science writer Zeeya Merali guides us through the latest particle science and experiments happening in today’s labs that could lead to this revolutionary development in the near future.

Deep Life: The Hunt for the Hidden Biology of Earth, Mars, and Beyond
by Tullis C. Onstott
Author Tullis Onstott — named one of the 100 most influential people in America by Time magazine — takes a different approach in searching for other forms of life within the universe: by more closely studying the crust of our very own planet. Miles deep beneath Earth’s surface, Onstott and fellow scientists have been uncovering microbes and bacteria that may provide hints to our search for extraterrestrial life.

Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery
By Scott Kelly
This personal memoir of Scott Kelly, veteran of four spaceflights and the American record holder for consecutive days spent in space, outlines Kelly’s personal journey from boyhood to NASA astronaut and details his extraordinary experiences during the year he spend in the International Space Station.

Exoplanets: Diamond Worlds, Super Earths, Pulsar Planets, and the New Search for Life beyond Our Solar System
by Michael Summers and James Trefil
In Exoplanets, astronomer Michael Summers and physicist James Trefil explore the latest planetary discoveries outside our tiny solar system, including rogue planets, planets made of diamond, planets almost entirely made up of water, planets orbiting pulsars, and a number of other anomalies that will leave you marveling at the strangeness of the universe.

The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars
by Dava Sobel
#1 NYT Bestselling author Dava Sobel returns for a lesson in history as much as science in The Glass Universe. In the mid-1800s, well before the first computer made its appearance, Harvard College began employing women to interpret the telescopic observations made by male scientists. These “human computers” were responsible for remarkable discoveries that now make up the foundation of modern astronomy.

The Hunt for Vulcan: . . . And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe
by Thomas Levenson
How long does it take to discover a planet that never existed in the first place? For hundreds of years, scientists from Newton to Einstein grappled with the hypothesis of Vulcan, a planet that had been predicted but never discovered. This book documents the journey from prediction to the ultimate admission that the Vulcan never existed…and how Albert Einstein, a theoretical physicist, made the discovery.

The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission
by Jim Bell
According to its publisher, this book from award-winning planetary scientist Jim Bell is “the story of the men and women who drove NASA’s Voyager spacecraft mission—the farthest-flung emissaries of planet Earth—told by a scientist who was there from the beginning.” Find out everything you ever wanted to know about the Voyager missions from the scientist who watched it all happen in real time.