Download Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life beyond Our Solar System Audiobook

Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life beyond Our Solar System Audiobook, by Ray Jayawardhana Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Ray Jayawardhana Narrator: Bronson Pinchot Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2014 ISBN: 9781482986693
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In Strange New Worlds, renowned astronomer Ray Jayawardhana brings news from the front lines of the epic quest to find planets—and alien life—beyond our solar system. Only in the past two decades, after millennia of speculation, have astronomers begun to discover planets around other stars—thousands in fact. Now they are closer than ever to unraveling distant twins of the Earth. In this book, Jayawardhana vividly recounts the stories of the scientists and the remarkable breakthroughs that have ushered in this extraordinary age of exploration. He describes the latest findings, including his own, that are challenging our view of the cosmos and casting new light on the origins and evolution of planets and planetary systems. He reveals how technology is rapidly advancing to support direct observations of Jupiter-like gas giants and super-Earths—rocky planets with several times the mass of our own planet—and how astronomers use biomarkers to seek possible life on other worlds.

Strange New Worlds provides an insider’s look at the cutting-edge science of today’s planet hunters, our prospects for discovering alien life, and the debates and controversies at the forefront of extrasolar-planet research.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Jayawardhana brings the latest cutting-edge science to all those astounding science-fictional visions of alien worlds, showing us that the universe is every bit as exciting as the masters of science fiction have always claimed. It’s no accident that his title invokes the opening of the original Star Trek. In this terrific book, he boldly goes out into the galaxy, showing us strange—and wondrous—new worlds.”

    Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award–winning author

  • “Anyone scanning the shelves today to learn about such urgent news from the universe should go directly to ‘J’ and take down Ray Jayawardhana’s Strange New Worlds. It begins with early speculation by ancient thinkers but moves quickly to a series of seemingly promising discoveries, beginning 160 years ago, that raised researchers’ hopes only to frustrate them…Reading Strange New Worlds, I felt the thrill of briefly sharing in the efforts of these planet-seeking scientists and seeing the universe through their eyes.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “With the seemingly endless stream of news about discoveries of alien planets, it’s easy to forget that just twenty years ago exoplanets were no more than theoretical possibilities. Now astronomer Ray Jayawardhana tells the story of how the dramatic hunt has unfolded, from the early days of stellar astronomy to present-day speculation about life outside our solar system.”

    New Scientist

  • “This combination of the insider’s expert perspective and storyteller’s skill really shines through in Strange New Worlds…You won’t find a more able guide for the journey.”

    Times Higher Education

  • “Remarkably evenhanded. This is a fast-moving field in which groups have often clashed. Nonetheless, he provides a survey of the subject without giving the protagonists anything to complain about. His lucid and effortless prose makes for an engaging read.”


  • “The search for habitable planets around other stars is one of the preeminent research areas in astronomy today. Jayawardhana gives a firsthand account of the exciting discoveries that have taken place in the past two decades of rapidly accelerating growth in this new field. Strange New Worlds not only conveys the author’s point of view about his own discoveries of planet-forming disks around other stars but also contains excerpts from Jayawardhana’s interviews with many of the other researchers who helped build the newest astronomical instruments, observe the first extrasolar planets, and create new or revised theories for the formation of planets.”


  • “Ray Jayawardhana, an astrophysicist and writer, vividly recounts the advances behind an extraordinary age of exploration.”


  • “An engaging read that casts a floodlight at the search for life-sustaining planets beyond our solar system…It is a must-read for anyone who has ever wondered about the possibility of life beyond our planet.”


  • “It is the most tantalizing question: are there other planets where creatures passingly like ourselves eat Chiko Rolls, watch TV, and walk the dog? Jayawardhana…explains the history and current science in simple English.”

    Sydney Morning Herald

  • “One aspect that attracted me to this book was that it revealed, in story-book fashion, the chronology of discoveries (including the names of the most significant players involved) in the quest for finding exoplanets. Such a format made for easy reading and, with each chapter, you could see the exoplanet story unfold.”


  • “An exciting, highly readable glimpse into a discovery that could have broad scientific and cultural implications.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Everything you need to know about alien planet discovery is insightfully described in this engaging book, which will appeal to astronomers, general science buffs, and armchair UFOlogists.”

    Library Journal

  • “If you have ever wanted to know how astronomers are going to find an Earth-like planet, this engaging book explains it all. Not only is Strange New Worlds fantastic storytelling about the checkered and dramatic history of exoplanet discovery but it also gives a compelling description of the path to future discoveries.”

    Sara Seager, author of Exoplanet Atmospheres

  • Strange New Worlds is a very satisfying book that does a thorough and excellent job of tracing the discovery and characterization of extrasolar planets. It is the only popular-level book that gives full, up-to-date, and in-depth coverage of one of the most exciting and fast-moving fields of scientific research.”

    Greg Laughlin, coauthor of The Five Ages of the Universe

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About the Author

Ray Jayawardhana is a professor and Canada research chair in observational astrophysics at the University of Toronto, where he also serves as senior advisor to the president on science engagement. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the EconomistScientific American, Astronomy, Muse, and more. He is the author of Strange New Worlds, which was a finalist for the Lane Anderson Award, one of Library Journal’s best science books of 2011, and the basis of the CBC television documentary The Planet Hunters. He lives in Toronto.

About the Narrator

Bronson Pinchot, an Audie Award–winning narrator and Audible’s Narrator of the Year for 2010, received his education at Yale University, which filled out what he had already received at his mother’s knee in the all-important areas of Shakespeare, Greek art and architecture, and the Italian Renaissance. He restores Greek Revival buildings and appears in television, film, and on stage whenever the pilasters and entablatures overwhelm him.