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Is Anyone Out There? The Scientific Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Paperback – June 1, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-0385311229 ISBN-10: 0385311222

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Delta (June 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385311222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385311229
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,334,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

University of California astronomy and astrophysics professor Drake, aided by science journalist Sobel, responds to the title's classic question with an account of his career-long quest to gamer hard scientific data that might point to some answers. One of America's pioneer radio astronomers, Drake provides firsthand descriptions of breakthrough moments in the past 30 years of astrophysics-no encounters of any kind, just straightforward astrophysics with inconclusive experimental results. Drake's medium is science, his theory technical and his slightly anthropocentric conclusions more modest than those of the average UFO abductee. Readers wowed by Communion and Chariots of the Gods will not find a similar level of excitement here, but Drake and Sobel provide a detailed record of a group of scientists' thorough, determined efforts to detect the extraterrestrial transmissions they believe may very well be out there. BOMC and QPB selections.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Drake (astronomy, Cornell Univ.) has spent over half his life looking for scientific evidence to support his hypothesis that alien civilizations exist and are probably trying to say "hello" to their neighbors. Drake began his search in 1959 with Project Ozma, using a radio telescope he set up in the hills of West Virginia. NASA will join the hunt in the fall of 1992 with its SETI Microwave Observing Project, marking the first coordinated effort to search for interstellar signals. Drake's memoirs, written with science journalist Sobel, provide a fascinating account of a scientist not afraid to probe the fringes of "respectable" science or to enlist the support of colleagues like Carl Sagan, Freeman Dyson, and Philip Morrison. While maintaining a skeptical attitude toward UFOs, he uses the "Drake Equation" to speculate that there may be as many as 100 million advanced extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy alone. David W. Swift's SETI Pioneers and First Contact , edited by Ben Bova and Byron Preiss (both LJ 4/1/90) nicely complement Drake's autobiography. Recommended for most libraries.
- Gary D. Barber, SUNY at Fredonia Lib.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
I would urge anyone interested in what could be "out there" to read this book.
H&W
If the great COSMOS Television Series (1 or 2) or his books have caught your attention, this also rounds out the wonderful story of Carl Sagan.
William D. Erickson
It is also interesting because it is filled with stories of very human people trying something different for the first time.
Ed Griffith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ed Griffith on July 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
I am very weary of reading uninformed speculation about S.E.T.I. (search for extra terrestrial intelligence) or people's fantasies about alien abductions. There is a real need for books like this which are aimed at a general readership but written on a scientific basis. The reason this book is so interesting is it is by one of the founders of scientific S.E.T.I. who started the first modern search back in 1960. It allows the reader to follow the dramatic increases in technology as the search started out from a very simple beginning and progressed to the very sophisticated complex search it is today. It is also interesting because it is filled with stories of very human people trying something different for the first time. Alas, the book ends in the early 1990s so you do not hear about more recent endeavors, such as the S.E.T.I. League or seti@home. It is also somewhat sad to read his high hopes on getting N.A.S.A. funding knowing in retrospect that it was cut shortly after the book was published, though he managed to keep the search going by privatizing it. I believe the reality is S.E.T.I. is probable a multi-generational search. It is always faster to get a book through amazon.com if available, but the S.E.T.I. Institute also offers this book with the author's signature.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Pletko on January 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
+++++

This book tells us the fascinating history of the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI). In addition, this is a science book, explaining the science that's needed to undertake such a challenging task (a task similar to "hunting for a needle in a cosmic haystack"). Lastly, this is an autobiographical book that profiles the life of coauthor Dr. Frank Drake (born: 1930), the first person in human history to use a radio telescope to search for other civilizations in space and who is now known as "the father of SETI." (The other coauthor of this book is best-selling author Dava Sobel).

What struck me when reading this book (first published in 1992) was Drake's unyielding enthusiasm for the strong possibility of discovering signals from an extraterrestrial civilization. In fact, he states, "This discovery...I fully expect to witness before the year 2000." The fact that a signal has not been detected "simply mean[s] that we [have] not looked long enough or hard enough."

Here's just some of what you'll learn about when reading this book:

(1) Project Ozma (performed in 1960) which was "the first modern radio search for extraterrestrial signals of intelligent origin."
(2) The creation of the Drake Equation in 1961 which is a "formula for estimating the number of advanced intelligent civilizations" in the Galaxy.
(3) SETI and the Soviets.
(4) Interstellar travel versus interstellar radio communication.
(5) The intriguing WOW! signal which was detected in 1977 (a signal that has never been repeated and is the best evidence for extraterrestrial intelligence).
(6) A radio message sent out by Drake and others in 1974 to hopefully be detected by other intelligent civilizations.
Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Carbon Klein on February 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
Basically, my title says it all...this book seems almost like a biographical account of Frank Drake's career as a radio astronomer. Great if you're into that...less great if you bought the book thinking about ETs. Since this book is out of print, may I instead, recommend Paul Davies' "Are We Alone? The Philosophical Implications of the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Intelligence."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. A Michaud on October 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
Forty-three years ago, astronomer Frank Drake was the first to conduct a search for radio signals that might be evidence of an alien civilization beyond our solar system. He has remained active in the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) ever since. Drake founded the non-profit SETI Institute, whose Project Phoenix is the most powerful of the current radio astronomy searches.
This accessible book, co-written with journalist Dava Sobel, is partly an autobiography and partly a non-technical survey of SETI. Drake tells both stories in an easily readable way. If you want a painless introduction to the radio astronomy search, this is as good as any.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David N. Reiss on April 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book explains SETI to the average person very nicely. The fact that is written by Frank Drake, the person to conduct the first search for extraterrestrial life in the universe is a great bonus, because you know it written by a person who understands the subject, inside and out.
Frank Drake is the person that the Drake Equation is named for. The Drake Equation a simple formula for calculating the change that other intelligence life in the Universe Exists. How you decide to plug numbers into the equation is where all the debate on this subject is conducted.
Great book. Get it if you can find it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By H&W on April 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
Frank Drake and Dava Sobel's book is a great introductory text for anyone interested in the SETI program. Dr. Drake pioneered the SETI program, or Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. I would urge anyone interested in what could be "out there" to read this book.
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