Wook Kim
February 10, 2006 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Rock from Mars

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Kathy Sawyer
publisher
Random House
genre
Nonfiction

We gave it an A-

Some 20 years ago, in the ice of Antarctica, a ”chunk of gray cement” weighing just over four pounds was found. But it wasn’t long after technicians at a NASA lab in Houston determined its age (4.5 billion years) and its origin (Mars) that some began to speculate that this otherwise nondescript specimen, known as ALH84001, might harbor signs of extraterrestrial life. Journalist Kathy Sawyer reanimates a scientific debate — now mostly settled — that involved some of our planet’s brightest minds (as well as the Clinton White House). She also manages to address such heady topics as the meaning of life and the impulses that fuel intellectual discovery. The Rock from Mars is a fascinating account of an epic battle — with profound intellectual and spiritual dimensions — that raged over a lowly meteorite turned rock star.

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