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Extraterrestrials 2ed: Where Are They? Paperback – 21 Aug 2008
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..".provides a fascinating series of articles by thoughtful scientists representing the broad range of disciplines that bear on the question of life elsewhere in the universe. The book contains lucid descriptions of the evidence from physics, chemistry, and especially evolutionary biology that permit speculation about the emergence of technological beings. The book is readable by anyone and will tickle the fancy of any person curious about our uniqueness in the universe." Geoffrey W. Marcy, American Journal of Physics
Is it possible that extraterrestrial life exists within our Galaxy? Leading experts from a range of sciences examine this question. After ten billion years, and among hundreds of billions of stars, we may well possess the most advanced brains in the Milky Way Galaxy.See all Product Description
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this wide-ranging collection of essays. Opinion seems fairly evenly
divided: about half say we are probably alone in the galaxy, and the
other half say we probably have intelligent neighbors. Clear to me is
that extraterrestrial life is very, very likely, since life itself is
probably-as several of the writers in this volume assert-an
emergent property of matter and energy. "Intelligent" or
communicating extraterrestrial life is another matter. The guess here
is that it is much less common.
Jared Diamond, who writes one of the
essays, makes the point that intelligence, as we define it, has
evolved here on earth only once, and so the argument from convergent
evolution, sometimes advanced to support there being intelligent life
elsewhere in the galaxy, is not convincing. Diamond gives the example
of the woodpecker which did not evolve in Australian, nor did any
other bird converge sufficiently to assume the woodpecker's niche
The damnable thing about the arguments both for and against
intelligent extraterrestrial life is they are all based on
assumptions: if your assumptions differ, your conclusions almost
Another problem is defining "intelligent"
life, or even life itself, for that matter. One of the writers
defines life in terms of matter that goes through a Darwinian
evolution, which I guess is the way life is defined these days: seems
strangely narrow, but maybe not. The amazing truth about intelligent
life is we may be looking right at it and not recognize it!
is an excellent (although uneven) book that I read at varying degrees
of attention: some of it is highly technical, and some is popular.
It's revision of the 1982 edition. The title refers to the quote from
Fermi, whose famous opinion about extraterrestrial intelligent life
was summed up in the skeptical phrase: "Where are they?" What he meant
was, if they existed they'd be here by now. This book addresses that
argument, mostly in agreement with Fermi. One authority estimates
that humanoid-like beings would have explored the entire galaxy in 60
million years. My question (and the question of others) is WHY would
they? Further I suspect that ETI may not share our psychology, and
have no desire to explore at all. Or may have no need to explore, or
may have explored so long ago there is no trace...etc. One author
comes close to the old idea that the stars themselves are
"alive" by postulating life forms that live within the stars
as "plasmobes." He even sees possible life on neutron
My bottom line belief is that intelligent life evolves into
something that we can't recognize as being alive (and, paradoxically,
maybe it isn't). It may be that life is just a primitive step on the
way to Becoming; that our consciousness is just a trick of the
evolutionary mechanism, and that it is information itself that is
alive, and that "real" "intelligence" in the
universe is something beyond our kin and beyond our ability to
comprehend in the slightest, just as our day-to-day concerns are
beyond the comprehension of a bacterium.
A silly book.
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