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Cosmos & Culture: Cultural Evolution in a Cosmic Context Hardcover – March 9, 2010

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Hardcover, March 9, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 612 pages
  • Publisher: US National Aeronautics and Space Admin (March 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0160831199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0160831195
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.6 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,386,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


 Reviews from Goodreads:

John Carter McKnight rated it with 4 stars and had this to say:

"Anthology of uniformly high quality. Diverse enough that few will find all the articles exceptionally interesting.It's divided into three parts: a pair of introductory essays on cosmic evolution, grounded in current work in complexity studies, a section on cultural evolution (cultural anthropology and memetics) and a back half on philosophy. I found the first three essays - the opening section and Kathryn Denning's long piece on the anthropology of SETI - really first rate and fascinating; the memetics pieces interesting, and little of the back half worthwhile, but I don't have much patience for philosophy.

The volume's subject to the critique that it's wishful thinking about extraterrestrial intelligence and our species having a future at astronomical timescales, dressed up in speculative science: that's a fair categorization of the back half, thought he front half has much to offer the scholar working on more ordinary timescales."

So Hakim rated it with two (2) stars and had this to say, "Interesting big picture, interesting topics -- but sadly couldn't manage for enjoyable narrative. Which is a shame; I personally feel this book can be magnificent if it has more engaging style. For serious learners only."

About the Author

Steven J. Dick is the former Chief Historian for NASA. He obtained his B.S. in astrophysics (1971) and his M.A. and Ph.D. (1977) in history and philosophy of science from Indiana University. He worked as an astronomer and historian of science at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, for 24 years before coming to NASA Headquarters in 2003. Among his books are Plurality of Worlds: The Origins of the Extraterrestrial Life Debate from Democritus to Kant (1982), The Biological Universe: The Twentieth Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate and the Limits of Science (1996), and Life on Other Worlds (1998). The latter has been translated into Chinese, Italian, Czech, Polish and Greek. His most recent books are The Living Universe: NASA and the Development of Astrobiology (2004) and a comprehensive history of the U.S. Naval Observatory, Sky and Ocean Joined: The U.S. Naval Observatory, 1830–2000 (2003). The latter received the Pendleton Prize of the Society for History in the Federal Government.  He is editor of Many Worlds: The New Universe, Extraterrestrial Life and the Theological Implications (2000), editor (with Keith Cowing) of the proceedings of the NASA Administrator's symposium Risk and Exploration: Earth, Sea and the Stars (2005), and (with Roger Launius) of Critical Issues in the History of Spaceflight (2006) and Societal Impact of Spaceflight (2007). He is the recipient of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Medal. He received the NASA Group Achievement Award for his role in NASA’s multidisciplinary program in astrobiology. He has served as chairman of the Historical Astronomy Division of the American Astronomical Society as president of the History of Astronomy Commission of the International Astronomical Union, and he as president of the Philosophical Society of Washington.  He is a member of the International Academy of Astronautics.

Mark L. Lupisella works for NASA as an engineer and scientists. He has worked on the Hubble Space telescope, Mars planning, Exploration and Constellation programs, wearable computing, astrobiology, artificial life, and many other areas. He is the author of over 25 published works and received NASA’s Space Flight Awareness Award for his work on the Hubble Space Telescope. 

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tim Tyler on August 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a great look at cultural evolution in the cosmos. It's pretty far-out reading material, though. There's a lot of material about cosmic evolution of universes, anthropic reasoning, SETI and what happens to mature civilizations. Many of the contributors discuss cultural evolution intelligently, make use concepts from memetics, and generally know what they are talking about. As contributors, we have Blackmore on temes, Dennettt on memes, Gardner on the intelligent universe, John Smart on the amazing future, Paul Davies - and many others. However, the book is jam packed with wild speculation about far-future events and possible alien evolution - and other material on the fringes of science. I liked it, but this may not be for everyone.
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