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The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery Hardcover – February 1, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
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From the Inside Flap
In this provocative book, Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay W. Richards present a staggering array of evidence that exposes the hollowness of this modern dogma. They demonstrate that our planet is exquisitely fit not only to support life, but also to give us the best view of the universe, as if Earth were designed both for life and for scientific discovery. Readers are taken on a scientific odyssey from a history of tectonic plates, to the wonders of water and solar eclipses, to our location in the Milky Way, to the laws that govern the universe, and to the beginning of cosmic time.
In The Privileged Planet, you will discover:
Why the best scientific evidence refutes the misnamed Copernican Principlethe widely held idea that there is nothing special about Earth or its place in the universe
Why the sheer number and size of galaxies does not mean that Earth’s capacity to sustain life is the result of blind chance
How Earth is precisely positioned in the Milky Waynot only for life, but also to allow us to find answers to the greatest mysteries of the universe
Striking ways in which water doesn’t behave like most other liquidsand how each of its quirks makes it perfectly suited for the existence of creatures like us
The harmony of Earth and the Moon: how they work together to sustain Earthly life as one intricate systemand how that system produces the best solar eclipses where Earthly observers can see them
How Jupiter and Saturn protect Earth from cataclysmic destruction
How the laws and constants that govern the universe must be narrowly fine-tuned for the existence of any complex life
The Privileged Planet's astounding findings should lead any individual to reevaluate entrenched assumptions about the universeand even to reconsider our very purpose on what so many have dismissed as nothing more than an accident of cosmic evolution.
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Top Customer Reviews
Gonzalez and Richards' (G and R) argument is something that, so far as I know, has not really been discussed before, namely, that the universe is fine-tuned for scientific discovery itself. This is a completely new angle. But the book is more than an argument for purpose in the universe. In fact, in many ways, it's a sweeping overview of the history of scientific discovery itself.
I would like to say something about the Publishers Weekly review that is posted on Amazon.com. It's baffling. I thought Publishers Weekly reviews were supposed to be more or less descriptive rather than editorial. But this review must have been written by someone who either didn't read The Privileged Planet carefully, or didn't understand the argument. First of all, the description of their treatment of habitability is inaccurate. G and R don't claim that Earth is the only habitable planet. They argue that, given what we already know about what it takes to make a habitable planet, such planets are probably rare. And they definitely don't argue that just because the Earth is well suited for life, therefore it was designed. In fact, they go to great lengths to show why that's not a very good argument.Read more ›
The second half is philosophical, treating things like the "Copernican principle" and the implications of the scientific findings. Naturally, this half is not restricted to hard data, but includes the authors' views of what the data imply. Many philosophically illiterate writers stumble on this ground, but G&R show considerable savvy.
Many outspoken scientists say that scientific findings imply that God does not exist, or that human beings are merely the last freakish product of the hurrying of matter; these authors disagree. If your mind is made up that only the former philosophy is legitimate, there is no use reading this book. If you would like to read a well-informed and reasonable defense of the latter position, this book is a good start.
Chapter eight, for instance, centers on research by Gonzalez that was featured in a cover story of Scientific American in 2001. Like our solar system's habitable zone, our galaxy has a habitable zone as well. This broken ring roughly have way from the galaxy's center is far enough away from the radiation-filled center of the galaxy, between its radiation-filled spiral arms, but not so far out that it lacks the heavy elements needed for terrestrial planets like Earth. This location is also well situated for making a range of scientific discovery. While other locations might allow improved observation of this or that feature, the Galactic Habitable Zone offers an overall better location for a range of important scientific observations. This is but one of many instances of what seems to be a consistent correlation between the requirements for life and the requirements for scientific discovery.
But any book coauthored by a philosopher must investigate the philosophical implications. Richards and Gonzalez recounts that a historical myth developed, according to which, when it was discovered that the Earth was neither the center of the Solar System nor the Universe, Earth became insignificant.Read more ›
The idea that the world and features of it are designed to help us understand the world and those features constitutes a remarkable insight. Gonzalez and Richards apply this insight mainly at the level of cosmology and astrophysics. But it promises to apply also in biology. Indeed, some preliminary work in the bioinformatics literature is suggesting that biological systems contain information of no functional use to the organism as such, but information that is useful to the investigator in examining the organism and trying to understand it.
The Privileged Planet breaks new ground. Einstein found it incomprehensible why the world should be comprehensible. Gonzalez and Richards begin to provide an answer to Einstein's perplexity.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Anyone who reads this book with an open mind will at least be questioning the prevailing secular theory of how the universe came into being. Read morePublished 4 months ago by K. Osteroos
This book is not for the fient of heart, it is over the top, a study book not a read through, so much material, these Boys did there home work, have highly recommended to friends.Published 7 months ago by francis barber
This is just an amazing book detailing over 100 (my guess) variables that are key to intelligent life on a planet. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Denise Eskildson
A book for the gullible. People will be easily pulled in by Guillermo Gonzalez's impressive credentials and be easily convinced thanks to confirmation bias. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Todd
A wonderful book discussing in detail our special place in the universe, and makes a persuasive argument from the scientific evidence that it could not have happened by accident.Published 15 months ago by Michael Manto
This book has to be one of the most underrated publications...ever. On the one hand, the book represents a substantial collection and culmination of astronomical findings and... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Amazon Consumer