Earth Life and Weird Life

Science for the Public: Working Science
Amherst, Massachusetts December 17, 2015

David Toomey, Ph.D., Professor of English and Co-Director of the Program for Professional Writing and Technical Communication. University of Massachusetts-Amherst.


Weird Life: the search for life that is very, very different from our own (W.W. Norton, 2013) Dr. Toomey discusses his popular 2013 title Weird Life: The Search for Life That Is Very, Very Different from Our Own. This book is largely concerned with the prospect of life elsewhere in the universe, but especially life that is not carbon-based. Here he describes the problem of defining life, the fundamental characteristics shared by all Earth life, the discoveries of extreme forms of Earth life and how that discovery has influenced the contemporary concept of life and the search for life beyond our planet.

some reviews of Weird Life

New York Times review

Washington Post review

Kirkus review

Open Letters review

Other books by Dr. Toomey include:

  • The New Time Travelers: a Journey to the Frontiers of Physics (W.W. Norton, 2007)
  • Stormchasers: the Hurricane Hunters and their Flight into Hurricane Janet (W.W. Norton, 2002)
  • (with Leslie Haynsworth)Amelia Earhart's Daughters: the Wild and Glorious Story of American Women Aviators from World War II to the Dawn of the Space Age (William Morrow, 1998)
  • (with James Collier) Scientific and Technical Communication in Theory, Practice and Policy (Sage Publications, 1997).