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If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens ... WHERE IS EVERYBODY?: Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life Paperback – 1 Dec 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Copernicus; Softcover reprint of hardcover 1st ed. 2002 edition (1 Dec. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441930299
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441930293
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 354,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

From the reviews:

"Webb offers coherent, understandable, and sometimes humorous coverage of a diverse range of topics. He provides readers with non-trivial insights into research fields they may not have encountered previously . . . I think everyone who has ever considered the possibility that other intelligent civilizations exist elsewhere within our galaxy will enjoy Where Is Everybody? They will find much to agree with, and much to argue about, in this very accessible volume." - Science 

"Where Is Everybody? is a delightful mental romp. With a light-hearted, enthusiastic tone, Webb offers lively coverage of UFOs, crop circles, and the books of Erich von Däniken, the infamous proponent of the idea that aliens visited the Earth in the distant past. Science-fiction fans will enjoy the frequent references to Star Trek, and science buffs will appreciate mention of the ideas of Carl Sagan, Fred Hoyle, Frank Drake, and Freeman Dyson. This book is a must-read for anyone who has ever pondered the question, "Are we alone?"

-Astronomy

"There have been many attempts to resolve the Fermi paradox, and Stephen Webb.. presents his favorites in compelling detail… [he] writes informatively - even authoritatively… His writing is encyclopedic in scope, lucid, often poetic – and in the end is both enormously inspiring and a little sad if he is right, as I’m afraid he might be, in concluding that we are the only advanced civilization in the Galaxy. Readers are free to differ with Webb’s conclusion, but they will be surprised to learn how convincing it is.

"I have read a number of good astronomy books this past year, but this is the one I regard as indispensable. If I were Robinson Crusoe – shipwrecked and lonely on an island in space -- I would want this book with me."

MERCURY Magazine (published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific)

"Stephen Webb provides a fascinating a guide to the rousing scientific debate over the existence of extraterrestrial life in Where Is Everybody? Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life … . The reader of the book will get a very broad education in many basic fields of science, including astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, meteorology and even psychology. Webb is clear, entertaining and fair to every one of the 50 opinions, and even gives his own solutions in a concluding chapter." (Jeffrey Marsh, Washington Times, January, 2003)

"Physicist Stephen Webb examines 49 hypotheses and theories that attempt to solve the Fermi Paradox and offers his own explanation in this fascinating survey of the opinions of astronomers, physicists and philosophers. … Where is Everybody? is engrossing and thought-provoking, a science book that every fan of science fiction should read." (Mark Graham, Rocky Mountains News, December, 2002)

"Amidst the plethora of books that treat the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence, this one by Webb … is outstanding. … Each solution is presented in a very logical, interesting, thorough manner with accompanying explanations and notes that the intelligent layperson can understand. Webb digs into the issues … by considering a very broad set of in-depth solutions that he addresses through an interesting and challenging mode of presentation that stretches the mind. … An excellent book for anyone who has ever asked ‘Are we alone?’." (W. E. Howard III, Choice, March, 2003)

"‘Where is everybody?’ … The question encapsulates what is now known as the Fermi paradox. Webb, lecturer in physics at the Open University in England, presents 49 solutions that have been proposed for the paradox, grouping them according to whether they hold that intelligent extraterrestrials are here, exist but have not communicated, or do not exist. He makes a splendid and enlightening story of it, concluding with his own solution, the 50th: ‘We are alone’." (Scientific American, June, 2003)

"In response to Enrico Fermi’s famous 1950 question concerning the existence of advance civilizations elsewhere, physicist Webb critically examines 50 resolutions to explain the total absence of empirical evidence for probes, starships, and communications from extraterrestrials. … His comprehensive analysis covers topics ranging from the Drake equation and Dyson spheres to the panspermia hypothesis and anthropic arguments. … This richly informative and very engaging book is recommended for most academic and public library science collections." (H. James Birx, Library Journal, December, 2002)

"Here’s a fascinating science book filled with ideas for SF writers. Physicist Webb examines the question about where are all the alien civilizations if life isn’t confined to lonely little Earth. … There’s an interesting, accessible discussion of Fermi’s paradox and even the more technical ‘explanations’ are provided in understandable layman’s terms. Very interesting and thought provoking." (Science Fiction Journal, May, 2003)

"The question posed by the title of this fascinating book is Fermi’s Paradox. … nicely organized and laid out for the general reader. Fortunately, Webb’s often witty comments make this an eminently readable book without sacrificing scientific rigor. You may agree or disagree with any of his particular solutions, but on the whole he presents each argument fairly. This is a terrific book for anybody with any interest in the extraterrestrial life question, and perhaps especially for those new to the field. Highly recommended." (Netsurfer Digest, June, 2003)

"In Where is Everybody? Stephen Webb … examines proposed solutions to this conundrum, known as the Fermi Paradox. … The proposed solutions … are well explained, and Webb skillfully argues their pros and cons with science. … Where is Everybody? is a delightful mental romp. With a light-hearted, enthusiastic tone, Webb offers lively coverage of UFOs, crop circles, and the books of Erich von Däniken … . This book is a must-read for anyone who has ever pondered the question, ‘Are we alone?’" (Jennifer Birriel, Astronomy, April, 2003)

"‘Where is everybody?’ … . it became known as Fermi’s Paradox. Now Stephen Webb … has suggested fifty reasonably sensible answers to the puzzle. … Where is everybody? is a classic book and one that you will be happy to refer to for decades to come. It is beautifully written, concise, thorough, interesting, and mentally stretching. This huge subject has been summarized with skill. And there are pages of notes and references encouraging you to read more and delve further." (David W. Hughes, The Observatory, Vol. 123 (1175), 2003)

"There have been many attempts to resolve the Fermi paradox, and Stephen Webb, the author of this remarkable book, presents his 50 favorites in compelling detail … . His writing is encyclopedic in scope, lucid, often poetic … enormously inspiring … . I have read a number of good astronomy books this past year; but this one is the one I regard as indispensable. If I were Robinson Crusoe – shipwrecked and lonely on an island in space – I would want this book with me." (William Sheehan, Mercury, January – February, 2003)

"Fifty ideas are presented … that reveal a clearly reasoned examination of what is known as ‘The Fermi Paradox’. … For anyone who enjoys a good detective story, or using their thinking faculties and stretching the imagination to the limits … ‘Where is everybody’ will be enormously informative and entertaining. … Read this book, and whatever your views are about life elsewhere in the Universe, your appreciation for how special life is here on Earth will be enhanced! A worthy addition to any personal library." (Philip Bridle, BBC Radio, March, 2003)

"In his highly entertaining and thought-provoking book, Where is Everybody, Stephen Webb sets out a host of possible solutions to the so called Fermi paradox, famously posed by the nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi." (Markus Chown, New Scientist, April, 2003)

"Webb offers coherent, understandable, and sometimes humorous coverage of a diverse range of topics. He provides readers with non-trivial insights into research fields they may not have encountered previously … . The author cites an impressive collection of primary resource materials … . I think everyone who has ever considered the possibility that other intelligent civilizations exist elsewhere within our galaxy will enjoy Where Is Everybody?" (Jill Tarter, Science, Vol. 299, January, 2003)

From the Back Cover

WHERE ARE THE EXTRATERRESTRIALS?

During a lunchtime conversation at Los Alamos more than 50 years ago, four world-class scientists agreed, given the size and age of the Universe, that advanced extraterrestrial civilizations simply had to exist. The sheer numbers demanded it. But one of the four, the renowned physicist and back-of-the-envelope calculator Enrico Fermi, asked the telling question: If the extraterrestrial life proposition is true, he wondered, "Where is everybody?"

In this lively and thought-provoking book, Stephen Webb presents a detailed discussion of the 50 most cognent and intriguing answers to Fermi's famous question, divided into three distinct groups:

- Aliens are already here among us. Here are answers ranging from Leo Szilard's, that they are already here and we know them as Hungarians; to those who claim that aliens built Stonehenge and the Easter Island statues.

- Aliens exist, but have not yet communicated. The theories in this camp range widely, from those who believe we simply don't have the technologies to receive or interpret their signals, to those who believe the enormities of space and time work against communication, to those who believe they're actively hiding from us.

- Aliens do not exist. Here are the doubters' arguments, from the Rare Earth theory to the author's own closely argued and cogently stated skepticism.

The proposed solutions run the gamut from the crackpot to the highly serious, but all deserve our consideration. The varieties of arguments- from first-rate scientists, philosophers and historians, and science fiction authors- turn out to be astonishing, entertaining, and vigorous intellectual exercises for any reader interested in science and the sheer pleasure of speculative thinking. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mikko Saari on 10 Aug. 2007
Format: Hardcover
This fine book by Stephen Webb offers fifty different solutions for the Fermi paradox. In short, Enrico Fermi wondered that since universe is so big and should contain lots of life, where are they? Why haven't we seen any evidence at all of extraterrestrial intelligence?

Well, there are plenty of good explanations, as this book proves. The solutions are divided in three categories: "they're already here," "they exist but we can't communicate with them," and "we're alone". Since there's a real lack of proper knowledge about these things, reader will find plenty of educated guesses, hazy probabilities and that sort of thinking, but that's the nature of the whole question.

I'd definitely recommend this book to anybody who's interested in the existence or non-existence of extraterrestrial life. While there are no set answers, this book will give the reader a lot of material to chew on. (Review based on the Finnish translation.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan S. on 27 Aug. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author discusses 50 solutions to Fermi's paradox. However, he does not come over as unbiased. His conclusion - that Earth is unique - seems to have already been formed before the discussion of the possible solutions.

The conclusion of the author could be correct, although he did not seem convincing.

There is very little real data on the subject. We have reasonable knowledge of the conditions on the 7 other planets in our solar system. There are over 1000 exo planets now known to exist. Some guesses can be made as to the likelihood of life on these planets, by virtue of their mass and proximity to their parent stars.

The author does not ask why some people would like to believe that the earth is unique. This seems to be an echo of pre Copernican thinking, which placed man at the centre of the universe. Surely this belief is as childish as a young child believing that the whole world revolves around its cries and temper tantrums. To believe that we are unique is to foster a childish outlook on another level.
Webb casts his web widely but not widely enough. There is too much concentration on what present technology can do.So he assumes that aliens may try contact via radio. What he does not investigate is how a meaningful conversation could take place. Assume for example a technological civilisation is 1000 light years away. So a simple 'Hello' would take at least 2000 years for a reply to come back.
Not enough emphasis has been given on how unstable the technogical civilisation on Earth is. It is simply not sustainable and is doomed to disappear quite soon. Think of the 4.5 billion years of the Earth and the probable lifetime of a radio using civilisation as not more than 300 years.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By astrocurly on 7 Jan. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Not being a science fiction fan, initially I doubted the scientific value of the book as the author includes some rather sci-fi solutions to the Fermi paradox early in the book. Presumably they have to be included for completeness. But he presents some very sensible, interesting solutions with his own as the last one, No. 50. I was particularly interested in the solutions dealing with the evolution of human characteristics, such as language and the probability of an extraterrestrial civilisation developing it. These factors are also treated like terms in the Drake equation.
I can recommend it to anyone wondering if there really is intelligent life in space. A less scientific, but worthwhile companion to "Rare Earth" which to me still represents the "bible" on planetary evolution.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark Noble on 7 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For anyone that asks the eternal question " IS there anyone out there ?", this book is simply a MUST. Absolute.

It argues for and against each case and is a thought provoking and highly enjoyable read.

It explores the Fermi Paradox in great depth with the respect that the subject matter deserves.

The author draws his own conclusions at the end, which I now share ( I didn't before ). A real testament to the power of books !

There is no better broadly based book on the subject.

Superb.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Good, clear, well-written overview of potential solutions to the Fermi Paradox. A little bit out of date on some of the latest work now, but I've not come across anything that I felt organised all the different ideas and literature better. I felt some of the discussion of non-scientific contributions (philosophy, sociology etc) was unduly flippant, but that was the only real weakness. I found Webb's eventual conclusion very plausible and well justified. Still (2013) well worth purchase if you are interested in issues around alien life.
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By wa233 on 8 Sept. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this book very interesting. It is full of well researched information on a huge range of astronomical, geological and biological topics. Every solution looked at could give rise to a plethora of debates. I don't want to give away the author's own solution to the problem but I discussed it at my own blog: http://3stes.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/how-many-extra-terrestrial.html
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