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The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence Paperback – Bargain Price, April 13, 2011
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Are we alone in the universe? This is surely one of the biggest questions of human existence, yet it remains frustratingly unanswered. In this provocative book, one of the world's leading scientists explains why the search for intelligent life beyond Earth should be expanded, and how it can be done. Fifty years ago, a young astronomer named Frank Drake first pointed a radio telescope at nearby stars in the hope of picking up a signal from an alien civilization. Thus began one of the boldest scientific projects in history, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). After a half-century of scanning the skies, however, astronomers have little to report but an eerie silence--eerie because many scientists are convinced that the universe is teeming with life. Could it be, wonders physicist and astrobiologist Paul Davies, that we've been looking in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and in the wrong way? Davies has been closely involved with SETI for three decades, and chairs the SETI Post-Detection Taskgroup, charged with deciding what to do if we're suddenly confronted with evidence of alien intelligence. He believes the search so far has fallen into an anthropocentric trap--assuming that an alien species will look, think, and behave much like us. In this mind-expanding book he refocuses the search, challenging existing ideas of what form an alien intelligence might take, how it might try to communicate with us, and how we should respond if it does. The Eerie Silence provides a penetrating assessment of the evidence, past and present, and an exciting new road map for the future.
A Q&A with Paul Davies, Author of The Eerie Silence
(Photo © Dave Tevis/Tevis Photographic)
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Davies wants a rethink from scratch, where we shake off the blinkers of anthropocentric thinking and question exactly what we should be looking for. Listening out for a direct radio message is fine, but lets extend the search to include more subtle evidence of alien legacy and the very origin of life.
ET has indeed been strangely quiet, and for Davies two rather extreme explanations for that are providing signposts to a `New SETI'.
Under the first option, we have to accept that life on Earth was born of a series of events so incredibly flukey they will never be repeated. Under the second, we face the chilling prospect that intelligent life pops up quite frequently, only to develop a propensity for technology fueled self-destruction.
Holding out hope for a middle way, and putting speculation over self-destructing aliens aside, Davies argues there is a raft of solid science we could be getting on with to better understand the scarcity of life. Those up for the task (and skilled enough to secure funding) will enter a field of polarised opinions and a paucity of hard evidence. The prize? - possibly the final word on the question of whether life is ubiquitous in the universe - a `cosmic imperative' - or that you and I here on Earth are a one-off, somewhat lonesome, rarity.Read more ›
So it is no surprise that the book stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy within the SETI community when it was first published. It was probably intended to do just that. But after reading the entire book I can't help but thinking that Davies' suggestions for improvement are a bit vague and nonspecific with many of them not having anything specifically to do with the search for intelligence out there, but rather a general astrobiological program designed to improve our understanding of many of the terms of the Drake equation.
But before we begin discussing these let's take a look at the general mode of search that modern SETI takes and how it would confirm a signal. Let's imagine a radio dish somewhere pointed at some point in the heavens and searching a wide swath of the microwave spectrum.Read more ›
Is it possible they would use something other than radio signals? How does SETI decide the frequency to search for and what about lasers as communication. He includes discussions on the effect that the first alien message would have on religion and the SETI Post Detection Task group and how it will deal with the first contact.
Points are made; who knows what focus technology and life will be on earth in 2090 when return messages would even be received.
If nothing else there are an abundance of quotes such as; regarding the idea that life could have arisen spontaneously "it is easier to believe that a whirlwind passing through a junkyard would assemble a 747" or "sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us".
Davies does a commendable job on simplifying for those of us that are not scientists, but he never `talks down`. He fills his chapters with fascinating points and ideas that are understandable. Questions that you might have had, if you have ever pondered life and the universe are answered in simple enough language that most anyone can comprehend.
The question is still out there...Is anybody there?; but the best summing up is that of Arthur Clarke; "Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not. In either case the idea is quite staggering".
Read this book to understand both sides of this query, it's an imponderable mystery that Paul Davies does a marvelous job in illuminating.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is a review, at the 50 year point, of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI), and a consideration of how it may evolve in the future, by the scientist who... Read morePublished 6 days ago by Andrew Johnston
Summary: This book is a great primer for anyone interested in SETI. It's not perfect, but overall a strong presentation of both the history of SETI, its limitations and challenges,... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
incredible book , the prospect of encounter alien civilization is mind bogglingPublished 2 months ago by kaled
I am surprised to report that the result of my having read this book was the conclusion that much existing search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) research is a waste of... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Adam Orford
This book has changed the way I think about SETI. For one, I've previously viewed it as a somewhat quixotic but interesting scientific search for alien radio signals in the hope... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Randy Tighe
The ET puzzle is slowly becoming one of the most perplexing questions confronting scientists at the beginning of XXI century. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Lucjan Zeitman
Great read. After reading it, I think someday we should start inoculating other planets with chemotrophs and blue green algae to prepare them for eventual colonization.Published 10 months ago by jking
It is remarkable that Davies is heavily involved in SETI, yet clearly ranks the probability of intelligence elsewhere near Zero! Read morePublished 10 months ago by Jmoss
Paul Davies has been around for some time. He is the ultimate scientist. He makes it quite clear that life is nothing like we know it. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Carl A. Panza