On September 17, 2019, James Trefil, a physicist who has written over 50 scientific books, and Michael Summers, an expert on planetary science, teamed up to publish a book demonstrating the endless possibilities of extraterrestrial life. Using their physics backgrounds, they revealed their imaginations to the public, backed by scientific clues.
Many exoplanets have been discovered, and planetary scientists have studied the environment on these planets. Furthermore, there are more planets than stars in our galaxy alone. In Imagined Life, Trefil and Summers predicts potential forms of life on other planets.
At first, the book may seem like a child’s imagination. Trefil, however, considers two main principles. He applies the few general rules that govern the physical universe and the theory that Earth’s laws of physics apply to the entire universe. Additionally, Trefil and Summers assume that natural selection occurs on other planets as well.
Trefil and Summers first discuss the source of energy. From previous studies, they are aware that energy does not have to derive from a nearby star. Even on Earth, oceans have hydrothermal vents on the floor that emit energy-rich chemicals. Yet creatures on Earth did not evolve to take advantage of these chemicals. The story is different, however, on other planets.
In other words, life in other ecosystems might be beyond recognition of modern human technology. A planet that has an orbit similar to our moon, for instance, might face the star at all times. This would cause life to be most hospitable at the halo around the planet since the sun would always be on the horizon. Additionally, creatures exposed to supersonic winds would have evolved to minimize air resistance by remaining as low as possible to the ground. On planets with stronger gravity, being short and possessing strong exoskeletons would be a necessity.
The coauthors of Imagined Life not only discuss life on other planets, but they also improve potential technological developments. It may be a good idea to pick up the book if you have ever wondered about the origin of life on Earth.
Publishers Weekly comments, “This is a marvelous introduction to a field fueled by both imagination and science.”
by SangHyun Kim