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As a child, Aomawa Shield's first great love was the sky - she would bump into things on the ground because her neck was always craned upward - and she longed to become an astronaut. Determined to make her dream a reality, Aomawa applied for and attended an elite high school with an astronomy observatory, graduated with a degree in astrophysics from MIT, and began studying for a PhD. But one year into her studies, a white male professor recommended that she consider other careers. Was he saying this because of her aptitude, or because there were no other astrophysicists who looked like her? Struggling with her own doubts about whether she'd chosen the right path, she left academia to become an actor.

After acting professionally for a decade in Los Angeles, temping to pay the bills, Aomawa took a day job at NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and realised she missed the stars and planets. She applied again to grad school and became the oldest and only Black student in her PhD cohort at the University of Washington. This time, no professor, and no voice in her own head, would stop her from getting her degree. She finished acclaimed research about the ice on other planets, and the weather in other worlds.

Stars shine in many colours: there are yellow stars like our Sun, fast-burning blue stars, and red dwarf stars. Aomawa's research has studied these red dwarfs in particular, which are especially abundant in our own Milky Way galaxy, and which may be more likely to harbour planets that support life. There are as many ways life could thrive in another world as there are ways life could be crushed - or never develop at all. If life existed in a red dwarf system, it would thrive differently from life in the world that we know. But the universe is a very big place. There is room for us all.

Life on Other Planets by Aomawa Shields

SKU: 9781408715284
Regular price $39.99
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Discover original voices, explore new ideas, imagine different worlds.

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As a child, Aomawa Shield's first great love was the sky - she would bump into things on the ground because her neck was always craned upward - and she longed to become an astronaut. Determined to make her dream a reality, Aomawa applied for and attended an elite high school with an astronomy observatory, graduated with a degree in astrophysics from MIT, and began studying for a PhD. But one year into her studies, a white male professor recommended that she consider other careers. Was he saying this because of her aptitude, or because there were no other astrophysicists who looked like her? Struggling with her own doubts about whether she'd chosen the right path, she left academia to become an actor.

After acting professionally for a decade in Los Angeles, temping to pay the bills, Aomawa took a day job at NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and realised she missed the stars and planets. She applied again to grad school and became the oldest and only Black student in her PhD cohort at the University of Washington. This time, no professor, and no voice in her own head, would stop her from getting her degree. She finished acclaimed research about the ice on other planets, and the weather in other worlds.

Stars shine in many colours: there are yellow stars like our Sun, fast-burning blue stars, and red dwarf stars. Aomawa's research has studied these red dwarfs in particular, which are especially abundant in our own Milky Way galaxy, and which may be more likely to harbour planets that support life. There are as many ways life could thrive in another world as there are ways life could be crushed - or never develop at all. If life existed in a red dwarf system, it would thrive differently from life in the world that we know. But the universe is a very big place. There is room for us all.

Reviews from real-life readers (caution: spoilers may lie this way!)

in front of a colourful mural, a set of legs wearing jeans with visible fishnets and bight yellow converse high-tops walks across a yellow bollard.

Discover original voices, explore new ideas, imagine different worlds.

With our curated collection of speculative literature featuring the diverse voices of outsiders, innovators, and creators of all kinds.

Hopeful curiosity

What we can imagine, we can create.

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