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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 March 1999
This book really gets you thinking in a new way: going beyond your own petty life and petty concerns to think about the far past and the far future. So you think computer disks are so cool? Egyptian pyramids have a better record of surviving down the ages - already some of our data media are disintegrating and we don't have any working equpment to read them! When you call something the "way of the future," Benford points out, you need to think about exactly how far in the future you are looking.
Time capsules? We go to so much trouble to send trivial junk into the future...sometimes for only a few decades. A future archaeologist would probably learn more from mining our landfills, as we do from digging in ancient garbage heaps.
Benford also distinguishes between serious, scientific efforts to send a message to aliens (eg the plaques/records on the Pioneer space probes) and the "Kilroy was here" impulse ("Send your name on a CD-ROM to the stars!") being marketed so heavily. The latter, he notes, amounts to graffiti, worthless in the end except to someone's ego.
Finally, there are sections on saving the environment and biodiversity, to make sure we HAVE a future. Benford strikes a balance between the in situ/ex situ (conservation/zoos) approaches to saving species and the Puritan/technology prophet approaches to solving the greenhouse effect, a balance that is desperately needed when most so-called experts seem to be passionate ideologues one way or the other.
This book draws broadly on numerous disciplines and from a lot of research but leaves you really thinking in the end, and perhaps rethinking some of your assumptions about the future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 August 1999
I liked this book a lot for the thoughts it provoked as much as what it contained. The notion that we send messages across deep time whether we intend to or not is fascinating. I recommend this book for people who want to think.
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on 25 May 1999
This is a very interesting and informative look at the problem of communication and the ideas that have been spawned to solve such problems.
It is also an interesting look at how communications FAIL, even in the present. The look at the Cassini project's interstellar communication attempt is a very interesting study in how EGOs, INFIGHTING and POLITICS can derail even the best of plans.
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on 24 January 1999
IF you're interested in saving the world, literally, then this book is required reading. Fascinating inside accounts of various projects to communicate across millenia, archive DNA, and send messages to the stars. Very interesting, at times entertaining, and totally unique. I really recommend this book.
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on 13 February 1999
This is an intersting look at mankind's attempts to communicate across the ages from the pyramids to timecapsules to messages on spacecraft and to current efforts to mark radioactive waste sites for the people of future centuries.
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on 3 June 1999
A very intriguing look at the complexities of communicating and preserving information over vast periods of time. Mr. Benford presents an unique, thought-provoking perspective on the subject... well-informed and unpretentious.
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on 19 March 1999
Tis is an extraordinary view of humanity in a long dimension of time--beautifully written, based on real experience, but not pontifical. It's a treat for anybody who likes to think deeply!
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on 19 March 1999
This is a profound work, the only treatment of truly large perspectives in time. A tremendous eye-opener and beautifully written, for humanist and scientist alike.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 April 1999
Greg Benford points out an implication of Deep Time that I have never before considered. Thank-you, sir. A new perspective on anything is (sometimes) important, and a new perspective on deep time is... well, lasting. Potentially.
But I submit that there is another aspect of deep time that is equally as important as our legacy to the future. We inhabit the earth through such a brief period in its natural history. Much of the nature that we hold so dear is transient, in deep time. A few thousand years from now, it is likely that the ice caps of the arctic regions will start to stretch across the planet, just as they have done at points over the last 30 million years. A few million years from now, solar eclipses will be a thing of the past. The moon is gradually spiralling out from its present orbit, the result of tidal forces eroding the energy that propels the relative motions of the Earth and the Sun. Once the moon reaches a certain distance from us, it will stop covering the sun.
Oh yeah, right! You say that something as trivial as a lunar eclipse is not such a big deal? Well get a clue, wise guy! It is in fact the sun that holds the most menacing place in the natural (future) history of our planet. Today, the sun emits about 30% more energy than when it was young. This trend will continue, of course; over deep time, it will push the habitable zone (the inner border of which is very much closer to Earth today than it is to Venus) sufficiently far as to put the Earth in very bad shape indeed. You see, the oceans will boil away, and so will we. And not in the unimagineably far future, either. According to estimates I have read, the oceans are dust in as little as 250 million years, as long as a billion years.
Even if it is a billion years, that is only about a quarter of the age of the earth today. In our human terms, the earth, as a life-bearing entity, is at best 55 years old.
At worst, about 70.
So the next time you are walking on the beach, marvelling at just "the way things are", spare some time for a new thought. The way things are is . All of its beauty, all of its precision, all of its physical makeup, is ours and ours alone to experience. Uniquely. Our time.
So brief.
And therefore, so important.
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