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Planetary Dreams: The Quest to Discover Life Beyond Earth Paperback – May 18, 2001
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Contrasting those who believe in special creation or a cosmic fluke that produced life only once with adherents to a life principle that favors its development wherever conditions suffice, Shapiro suggests that the best way to resolve the issue is simple: let's go looking. He feels that the importance of this question to most people has been underrated by those who (nobly) want to meet our basic needs here on earth before we take off for new worlds, and that we can accommodate everyone by shifting burdens of research funding and reinspiring the public with a new emphasis on this work as a search for meaning. Whether or not his ideas will move us forward, the lively, thoughtful Planetary Dreams is one of the best starting points for learning about the search for the origins of life here and, maybe, out there. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
As he develops his theme, Shapiro spares no effort in deriding what he deems inadequate. The prominence of any figure or idea simply crumbles under his penetrating gaze. If the work meet his qualification of "extraordinary proof", he demolishes it with scornful imagery. His critiques have led his colleagues to deem him "Dr No" - an appellation he relishes.
Nor does he fail to adapt any mechanism to further his position. He even enlists biblical allegory - albeit rather twisted in his hand. Knowing the biblical myth of a "creation week" is outdated, he simply changes the metaphor. He crams the 12 billion year history of the Cosmos into a seven day framework. In this structure he also places two "schools" of ideas about life - the Christian Fundamentalists and the followers of the Anthropic Principle. The former relies on one of the multitude of "Bibles". The latter accepts scientific observations of Nature, but deems the whole Cosmos is in place just for humanity. Countering this unusual mix is Shapiro's "Sour Lemon School" which sees life's origins as a fluke.Read more ›
My initial interest in the book Planetary Dreams was professional. I work at NASA and am involved in Astrobiology, the search for life in the universe. Dr. Robert Shapiro is well known in this area because of his work on understanding the origins of life and developing methods to search for nonterrestrial life. Exotic life in our solar system may not be based on carbon or use water as a solvent.
By reading Planetary Dreams, I have gained a better, firmer, clearer, wider understanding of the scientific world view. I can easily imagine a reader having his or her life changed by reading this book. I was so interested in Planetary Dreams that I postponed seeing the new Star Wars movie until after I finished the book. And Planetary Dreams is better entertainment and much better philosophy than the movie, and it indicates a worthy future quest for the human race. I loved every word. Everyone interested in life and the universe should read this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a subject that I am very interested in. However I found the book quite boring to read. Trying to make it clear, to the general reader he ended out boring, someone who knows... Read morePublished on August 13, 2001
For years scientists have been dicovering the limitations the universe puts on life. In other words, life is very rare. Read morePublished on March 16, 2000
I bought this book largely because of the very favorable reviews here. By page 70 I was ready to fling it across the room and give up on it -- I was getting nothing useful out of... Read morePublished on March 13, 2000
Planetary Dreams is a superb book full of interesting information and ideas. I particularly liked the fresh and inspiring ideas in the last two chapters. Read morePublished on January 7, 2000 by Allen Tough