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Sharing the Universe: Perspectives on Extraterrestrial Life Paperback – January 1, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0965377430 ISBN-10: 0965377431 Edition: illustrated edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Berkeley Hills Books; illustrated edition edition (January 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0965377431
  • ISBN-13: 978-0965377430
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,933,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Shostak is the Public Programs Scientist for the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute. In this fascinating speculative book, he builds a careful case for the importance of the institute's work, narrowing the range of the galaxy's possibly life-nurturing stars and imagining what forms non-carbon-based life might take. "Although a majority of the American public is convinced that aliens are making house calls to planet Earth," Shostak writes, "most scientists aren't." In prose as lively and dramatic as the science-fiction movies he clearly savors, in the book's final chapters Shostak describes scientific reality: "If it happens, it will begin slowly and without warning in a radio telescope's cramped, cluttered, control room.... under a hundred tons of steel faced off against the pinpoint gleams of the night sky." The book is rich in considered, engaging science, with occasional lapses into excessive speculation about artificial intelligence in space, or into plugs for the institute. Sections on possible alien behavior, on motives for contact and means of contact?all of which make comparisons to movies?are compelling as they reveal as much about us as about anyone who may pop across for a visit. Twenty-three pages of photos and illustrations.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

The book is rich in considered, engaging science, with occasional lapses into excessive speculation about artificial intelligence in space... -- Publishers Weekly February 6, 1998

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Customer Reviews

I felt drawn through this book.
Judith Marx Golub
It seems like Shostak enjoyed writing this book because his wry sense of humor appears throughout.
Tim Richards (timr1@ma.ultranet.com)
There is a real need for a book like this.
Ed Griffith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Judith Marx Golub on July 5, 1998
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is difficult to comprehend just how big our universe is.And can this vast universe of ours be here just for US? I don't thinkso. And after reading Dr. Shostak's book, I'm more convinced than ever that there is intelligent life out there.
Whether you are an astronomer, an avid enthusiast of estraterrestrial (E.T.) life, a skeptic, or just curious about the subject; there is something here for you.
This is not a super technical book; it's one the average person can understand, appreciate, and learn from. Besides the basics, I leaned about what is possible reagarding the search for E.T.s - (the approach and why)- and more interstingly, what is NOT possible. Shostak takes a clean, scientific, and logical approach, maybe even to the point of destroying the myths that we have come to know and love through science fiction, and at the same time providing a wealth of new possibilities.
Shostak has an interesting writing style. He starts out most sections with a question. Then he proceeds to discuss and argue all sides of the question, and often it appears he has even answered the question. But then he leaves you with another question - a great transition to the next section. I felt drawn through this book.
This book will certainly appeal to the history buff and the avid science fiction fan. Shostak cleverly weaves history, and television and Hollywood fantasy into his explanations.
Some of the excitement from this books comes from the fact that there is no end. It hasn't happened yet; we haven't found E.T.; in fact, it has only just begun. Shostak shows just what a long and tedious process this really is.
For me, what sets this book apart from others, is that although extremely informative, it is also full of wit and humor.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Shostak spends some time correctly pointing out how unlikely the Hollywood-style aliens are, and how massively unlikely it is that any ET's would make the trek to Earth. There's a forward by Francis Drake of the Drake equation fame. The book examines the how and why of discovering intelligent life elsewhere from a scientific POV. Readable but little new. Fermi's famous "Where are they?" is addressed. My position is that is doubtful that intelligent life forms will find any reason to replicate throughout the galaxy. Reproduction is just part of the delusion say the highest philosophers on this planet. I suspect it might be the same elsewhere. Shostak seems to allow that life is probably plentiful, but intelligent life less so. Most saliently, he points out that the life span of any civilization is probably limited, thereby greatly reducing the probability of contact.
This is a good book, but Aliens: Can We Make Contact with Extraterrestrial Intelligence? (1999) by Andrew J. H. Clark and David H. Clark covers more ground and is more up to date. With so many advances being made today in technology and technique, we need frequent updates to keep abreast of what is going on. I hope Shostak favors us with another book soon where he might speculate on the non-Hollywood forms extraterrestrial life might realistically assume. Could intelligent life be as small as insects? Or microbes? How about non-biological life forms? Energy beings? It might be good if scientists sometimes, especially in the later years of their careers, worried less about possible academic criticism, and let their well-trained and knowledgeable minds run free, and share their speculations with us.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 20, 1998
Format: Paperback
"Sharing the Universe" by Seth Shostak is an absorbing, fascinating look at the possibility that we are not alone on the galaxy. Using examples from science fiction film, this book covers a lot of ground -- the history and theory of SETI (The Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence), the current research methods, the hopes and motivations of the searchers, as well as speculation on alien biology and sociology. (What might E.T. look like? How might he behave? What would his motivation be? What about his sex life?) And all of it based on real science, explained by a SETI scientist with a talent for drawing the reader into his own excitement for his subject. Very well written in a light, amusing style that in no way detracts from the serious and important nature of the material, "Sharing the Universe" has enough depth to satisfy a reader already familiar with SETI but is also engaging enough to interest the newcomer. I found this book to be informative and thought-provoking, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tim Richards (timr1@ma.ultranet.com) on July 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
A major portion of "Sharing the Universe" is devoted to what the scientific community currently thinks real extraterrestrial "intelligent" beings could be like ... their appearance, language, thought processes, and so on. Shostak writes in good, clear prose with plenty of simple analogies borrowed from the animal kingdom we all know on earth. It seems like Shostak enjoyed writing this book because his wry sense of humor appears throughout. My friends agree, even those without a background in science, that this book is a quick read, very informative, and a lot of fun. Tim Richards, Lancaster, Ma.
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