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Goldilocks and the Water BearsLouisa Preston

Bloomsbury Sigma, £16.99

'You're lucky to be alive' – as a biologist, I really thought I had a grasp of this saying. Let's put evolution to one side and consider just the sperm race: we are all the product of one sperm in a billion, which I'd say certainly lives up to the idea we are lucky to be alive. However, after reading Goldilocks and the Water Bears, I have gained a whole new perspective on 'luck'.

In this book, Preston unpicks every prerequisite for life and reveals how numerous serendipitous events have led to life on Earth. She starts by talking through the history of our fascination with extra-terrestrial life, before moving on to discuss requirements for life and where in the universe life may be found. In these chapters, she carefully reviews each condition necessary for life as we know it and uses this knowledge to suggest areas of our universe that may be 'just right' for its development.

Preston also discusses the potential for life 'not as we know it', taking inspiration from extremophiles living in some of the most inhospitable places on Earth and suggesting there may be many surprisingly habitable corners of the universe.

This book makes for an extremely interesting read and I would strongly advise you to run off and buy a copy. I am off to thank some extremely lucky stars that I'm alive.

Natasha Ganecki

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