If there's anyone not
interested in the possibility of life on other planets, they must keep to themselves. Along with "Who am I?" and "Why am I here?" "Am I alone?" ranks as one of the classic Big Questions asked by all curious minds. Now comes the first detailed reference book covering the search for an answer: The Extraterrestrial Encyclopedia
by astrobiologist David Darling. More than 2,000 entries define and explain conceptual, fictional, theoretical, and technical thinking about exobiology, copiously referenced and cross-indexed for easy searching and browsing. Start with SETI (why not?) and after poring over the eight-page entry, you'll find yourself trying to decide whether to check out SERENDIP, Iosef Shklovskii, or the Arecibo radio telescope next.
Darling's choice of entries is telling--far from just a dry assortment of biographies and dates, you'll find 2001: A Space Odyssey, the ancient Greek philosopher Xenophanes, and hydrothermal vents explored as they relate to the Big Question. Though the book has all the facts you'd need for a hundred term papers, it also acknowledges the strong cross-currents running between scientific and pop cultures, which makes for entertaining and sometimes surprising reading. (Who knew that so many serious astrophysicists wrote science fiction?) The truth may or may not be out there, but The Extraterrestrial Encyclopedia will keep us current on the search. --Rob Lightner
From the Inside Flap
The possibility of life on other worlds has stirred the human imagination and stimulated scientific curiosity for as long as people have been looking up at the sky. From Aristotle to Star Trek to the latest pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope, the examination of this age-old question continues to arouse profound excitement and has found expression in human culture from the first cosmologies to the latest theories about the origin of life -- in oral tradition, literature, and film, and in the rapidly developing disciplines of astrobiology, space exploration, and extrasolar planet detection.
David Darling draws together the many threads of the search for extraterrestrial life in his comprehensive and entertaining guide. His one-of-a-kind resource covers everything from the Arecibo Message; brown dwarfs; cell membranes; Dyson spheres; and extremophiles to biographical portraits of leading scientists, such as Carl Sagan and Jill Tarter; philosophers, such as René Descartes and William Whewell; and science fiction writers, such as Olaf Stapledon and Arthur C. Clarke.The Extraterrestrial Encyclopedia
offers a wealth of information, never before available in a single volume: almost 1,900 informative entries cover a wide range of topics -- from serious science to pop culture.biographical profiles identify over 300 leading contributors in the field94 illustrations
user-friendly cross-referencing makes navigating through the topics easyan extensive list of web sites guides further researcha detailed time line places the search for extraterrestrial life in historical perspectivea detailed table shows SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) programs from 1960 to the present