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Intelligent Life in the Universe 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1892803023
ISBN-10: 189280302X
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The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself by Sean Carroll
"The Big Picture" by Sean Carroll
The Big Picture is an unprecedented scientific worldview, a tour de force that will sit on shelves alongside the works of Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan, Daniel Dennett, and E. O. Wilson for years to come. Learn more | See related books
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 509 pages
  • Publisher: Emerson-Adams Press; 1 edition (November 16, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 189280302X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1892803023
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,563,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a detailed treatment of the scientific work done in the fields of cosmology and "exobiology" (i.e. extraterrestrial life). It is written for the layman, with paragraphs written in a smaller font that hammer out the technical details.

Sagan annotates the original Russian work of Shklovskii. Sagan's annotations help clarify some of Shklovskii's work by inserting examples and 'fer-instance's, offering opposing arguments, and telling charming tales in his incomparable way.

The book has three sections. The first deals with Cosmology, which is the study of the structure and composition of the universe. The second section deals with the origins of life, how it happened on Earth, and how life might form in extraterrestrial environments, such as on other planets. The third section details the search for extraterrestrial life.

The book will give a sense of awe for the reader who may not know, for example, that there are former stars in our galaxy which are as massive as our Sun, are the size of our Earth, and that spin 300 times a second! (These are the pulsars). The book also succeeds in giving the reader a sense of enormity both in the size and the age of the universe.

There are sections in the book that you will want to ignore because they are severely outdated. For example, there are several chapters dealing with the quest for life on other planets in our solar system, such as Mars. All of the Mars pictures in the book are of fuzzy images from ground-based observatories. This book was written before Voyager, Viking, and the Hubble Space Telescope. So when Sagan asks "Are there canals on Mars?" or "Are the moons of Mars artificial satelites?", you can just skip it (there aren't and they aren't).
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By A Customer on June 25, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are interested in this issue, I highly recommend the book. This book is extremely thorough, so thorough it could be used as a textbook on an astrobiology class. It was written in the sixties so yes its out of date here and there, but much of the information is surprisingly current. You also get a great early taste of Sagan's writing style.
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Format: Paperback
I first read this book in the early 1970s, and have read many
since then, and it pained me somewhat to find that the book is now out of print. I can honestly say this is still, without any doubt
in my mind, the *best* starting place for the study of astronomy,
cosmology, astrobiology/xenobiology (call it what you will) and
all things extraterrestrial. The book gives you all the background information available at the time of its publication to understand
problems that are still profound to this day, in a step by step
method that is both an absorbing read and and a good bit of education in itself. Invaluable for both its conclusions and for the historical background it gives to current issues, well illustrated and beautifully far reaching, I most highly recommend this rare and wonderful book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I used this book as an undergrad in a 400 level Astronomy class. At the time, the book was a real challenge for me in that I wanted to understand the mathematical and physical foundations of intelligent life. By the end of the course, and the book, I was, and have remained, absolutely convinced that intelligent life is plentiful in the universe, at least as can be "proved" mathematically using our physical laws. I was also convinced that human type life is in fact highly unlikely to be duplicated elsewhere in the universe. Finally, it is likely that many of this other intelligent life is perhaps vastly superior to our own. No, I'm not a nut, and I'm not a scientist, but I am convinced, even in the absence of physical evidence. Read this book, you'll make your own mind up. One warning, this is not "light reading". It is a college level textbook, that if you stay with it, will reward you in the end. What a shame we have lost such a great mind as Carl Sagan. To date, no one has stepped up to replace him.
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ALTHOUGH WRITTEN OVER 20 YEARS AGO, THIS IS THE MOST COMPLETE BOOK DISCUSSING SCIENTIFICALLY THE POSSIBILITIES OF INTELLIGENT LIFE IN TTHE COSMOS. FROM THE EXTREME DIFFICULT POSSIBILITY OF LIFE BEING SPREAD FROM PLANET TO PLANET ACCIDENTALLY TO THE MORE REASONABLE POSSIBILITY OF LIFE BEING CREATED IN SITU IN EACH PLANET, OR, FROM THE POSSIBILITIES OF DIFFERENT CHEMISTRY BASED LIFE IN EARTH TO A HYPOTHETICAL LIVING BEING WHICH CHEMISTRY IS BASED IN SILICIUM FOR EXAMPLE, YOU NAME THE TOPIC AND YOU WILL FIND THAT THE AUTHORS WROTE SOMETHING ABOUT. I'D SAY THAT A CHAPTER REGARDING THE PHYLOSOFICAL / SOCIOLOGICAL IMPLICATION OF INTELLIGENT LIFE IS MISSING, BUT AGAIN THIS IS A BOOK WHO HELPS TO ÖPEN DOORS, AND I AM SURE THAT MANY OF THE BOOKS WRITTEN IN THE LAST YEARS HAVE SOMEHOW BEING BASED IN THAT HYSTORICAL AND AMAZINGLY COMPLETET BOOK.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Iosif Samuilovich Shklovsky (1916-1985) was a Soviet astronomer and astrophysicist. Carl Sagan (1934-1996) was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, author, cosmologist, and highly successful popularizer of astronomy, astrophysics and other natural sciences.

Sagan explains the genesis of this book in the Preface as follows: "When I received a copy of (Shklovskii's) book, I was struck by its broad scope and novel insights. I wrote to Shklovskii, asking him if we might translate it into English. Shklovskii readily consented, and invited me to add additional material as I saw fit.... I have added about as much material as there was in the work initially .... The result is a peculiar kind of cooperative endeavor. I have sent much of the entirely new material to Shklovskii for his comment, and he has sent much new material to me for inclusion."

Concerning the possibility of extraterrestrial life, Sagan writes, "I think Shklovskii and I can be described as cautious optimists on this question." They write, "If it seemed likely that technical civilizations existed on planets only 10 or 20 light years away, or civilizations greatly in advance of our own, at larger distances, a serious effort to establish contact might be justified. On the other hand, if we can only reasonably expect civilizations at about our level of technical advance thousands of light years away, attempts at communication would not seem profitable, at least at the present time." They add, "The number of extant civilizations substantially in advance of our own in the Galaxy today appears to be perhaps between 50 thousand and one million. The average distance between technical civilizations is between a few hundred light years and about 1,000 light years.
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