'An expert romp through the science of extraterrestrial life.' Adam Rutherford Today we kw of only a single planet that hosts life: the Earth. But across a Universe of at least 100 billion possibly habitable worlds, surely our planet isn't the only one that is just right for life? As Goldilocks was searching for the perfect bowl of porridge, astrobiologists are searching for conditions throughout the Universe that are just right for life as we currently kw it to exist. With the Earth as our guide, the search has begun for similar worlds sitting at the perfect distance from their Sun - within the aptly named 'Goldilocks Zone' - that would enable them to keep water as a liquid on their surface and therefore perhaps support a thriving biosphere. What might life look like on other worlds? It is possible to make best-guesses using facts rooted in biology, physics and chemistry, and by studying 'extremophiles' on Earth, organisms such as the near-indestructible water bears that can survive in the harshest conditions that Earth, and even space, can offer. Goldilocks and the Water Bears is a tale of the origins and evolution of life, and the quest to find it on other planets, on moons, in other galaxies, and throughout the Universe.
Louisa Preston is an astrobiologist, planetary geologist and unashamed lover of water bears. Her research focuses on places on Earth in which life is able to survive despite extreme conditions; such habitats provide clues on what alien life-forms might look like, and where we should search for them. Having worked on projects for NASA and the Canadian, European and UK Space Agencies, the only thing Louisa enjoys more than devising ways to find extra-terrestrial life is writing and talking about it. She has published numerous articles and academic papers, and regularly appears on radio and television shows, such as the BBC's The Sky at Night. She is a TED fellow, and spoke about the search for life on Mars at the 2013 TED Conference. Louisa has spent most of her life in one of two Londons - one in Ontario, and one in the UK - but she currently lives with husband, son and cat in Kent. Goldilocks and the Water Bears is her first book. @LouisaJPreston