Light of the Stars

Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth

Adam Frank (Author, University of Rochester)


Astrophysicist and NPR commentator on what the latest research on the existence and trajectories of alien civilizations may teach us about our own.

Light of the Stars tells the story of humanity’s coming of age as we awaken to the possibilities of life on other worlds and their sudden relevance to our fate on Earth. Astrophysicist Adam Frank traces the question of alien life and intelligence from the ancient Greeks to the leading thinkers of our own time, and shows how we as a civilization can only hope to survive climate change if we recognize what science has recently discovered: that we are just one of ten billion trillion planets in the Universe, and it’s highly likely that many of those planets hosted technologically advanced alien civilizations. What’s more, each of those civilizations must have faced the same challenge of civilization-driven climate change.

Written with great clarity and conviction, Light of the Stars builds on the inspiring work of pioneering scientists such as Frank Drake and Carl Sagan, whose work at the dawn of the space age began building the new science of astrobiology; Jack James, the Texas-born engineer who drove NASA’s first planetary missions to success; Vladimir Vernadsky, the Russian geochemist who first envisioned the Earth’s biosphere; and James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, who invented Gaia theory. Frank recounts the perilous journey NASA undertook across millions of miles of deep space to get its probes to Venus and Mars, yielding our first view of the cosmic laws of planets and climate that changed our understanding of our place in the universe.

Thrilling science at the grandest of scales, Light of the Stars explores what may be the largest question of all: What can the likely presence of life on other worlds tell us about our own fate?

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • June 2018
  • ISBN 978-0-393-60901-1
  • 6.5 × 9.5 in / 272 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“In this provocative new book, Adam Frank makes the case that one good way to think about life on Earth is to think about the prospect of life on other planets—and what it might have to teach us about how to be good Earthlings.” — Sean Carroll

“Exoplanets and the prospects for alien life are among the most fascinating and fast-advancing topics in the whole of science—and these advances help us to see our own Earth in a fuller perspective. Adam Frank deserves our gratitude for condensing so much fascinating material into this highly readable book.” — Martin Rees

“Adam Frank ably picks up where Carl Sagan left off, translating remarkable new scientific insights on planetary life cycles into a sobering question for Homo sapiens: Can we be more than a ‘cosmic teenager,’ as Sagan put it, and act on evidence that intelligence doesn’t guarantee a species longevity?” — Andrew Revkin

“This book describes the emerging science of astrobiology, which is helping us to understand the task we face in bringing our civilization into a healthy relationship with our planet. Frank’s book serves as a kind of cosmic GPS, giving us an orientation that will help us to succeed. Happily it’s not just important but also very clear, succinct, and entertaining.” — Kim Stanley Robinson

“This important book puts the challenge of climate change literally in an astronomical perspective, by explaining why any technological civilization will have to solve it, if it is to survive. Gracefully and clearly written, this is a book that everyone concerned with the world our grandchildren will inherit will want to read.” — Lee Smolin

“In explaining the science and sociological drivers that will determine whether or not we humans will be part of the long future of our planet, Adam Frank introduces us to an array of charming scientific explorers you’ve probably never heard of, as well as the giants who have dared to adopt a cosmic perspective as a necessity for pondering our future fate.” — Jill Tarter

Light of the Stars offers a new way to think about our place in the scheme of things. It explains how our species, though produced by a seemingly purposeless evolutionary process, has nonetheless wound up with a mission—a critical mission—that is rooted deeply in nature. This momentous and bracing story is one that Adam Frank, an accomplished astrophysicist and a gifted writer, is uniquely qualified to tell.” — Robert Wright

Also by Adam Frank All

  1. Book CoverAstronomy: At Play in the Cosmos

    Paperback + Digital Product License Key Folder

All Subjects