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Looking for Earths:
Alan Boss is a theoretical planetologist: he imagines how and where planets might form. Looking for Earth is his account of the first discoveries of planets around other stars, which he rightly calls "a step as significant as Neil Armstrong's first step onto the Moon." Because Boss is a leading theoretician and a member of various committees and advisory bodies, he had a trackside seat for the race but is free from the bias that comes from actually running. He is better (and much more honest) than most astronomers at describing the infighting, boredom, professional feuds, bad doughnuts, and hard work that go into doing Big (i.e. astronomically expensive) Science. Boss includes an acronym glossary, so you can wrap your brain around sentences such as "The SISWG agreed that Michael Shao's design for OSI met the requirements for AIM." And he proves that you can be a consultant for the government and still maintain a sense of humour, as when he says that "51 Pegasi's planet must have formed more or less at its predicted location, and then been dragged kicking and screaming inward toward its star".
The late 1990s have seen the start of one of the great ages of discovery, and Boss's excitement is palpable. "In the distant future, a thousand years or two from now, aliens will reach an Earth-like planet orbiting a star in the Sun's neighbourhood.... Our descendants will be those aliens." --Mary Ellen Curtin, Amazon.com [via]