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Are we alone in the universe? Almost certainly not. In First Contact, Marc Kaufman provides a gripping tour of the magnificent new science of astrobiology that is closing in on the discovery of extraterrestrial life. In recent decades, scientists generally held that the genesis of life was unique to Earth: It was too delicate a process, and the conditions needed to support it too fragile, for it to exist anywhere else. But we are now on the verge of the biggest discovery since Copernicus and Galileo told us that Earth is not at the center of the universe. New scientific breakthroughs have revolutionized our assumptions about the building blocks of life and where it may be found. Scientists have hunted down and identified exoplanets, those mysterious balls in the universe that orbit distant suns not too different from our own.

About the Author

Marc Kaufman

To report "First Contact," I spent more than two years traveling the globe to meet and learn from the scientists at the cutting edge of the search for life beyond Earth. The world of ET had not been a major interest of mine over the years (though I certainly am a fan of "2001: A Space Odyssey") but I was pulled in during a science-religion fellowship, and had come to see the search as far more than a curiosity. In fact, I came to see the worldwide effort to learn extraterrestrial life as a kind of stealth Apollo program -- massive in scope yet hidden in plain view. As a reporter and editor for more than 30 years, mostly at The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer, I've been primed to jump on the big story, and that's what I saw in astrobiology. I am now a science writer and national editor at The Post, but I believe my years working as a foreign correspondent trained me best to write this book. Why? My task was again to learn and understand new languages and cultures, only this time of a scientific nature. I also needed to find the individuals who might best bring the work and the story to life, and then to translate their research for those without their depth of training and experience. It was the education of a lifetime for me, and hopefully will be eye-opening and compelling for you.

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