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Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life by [Grinspoon, David]
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Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Length: 470 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In Lonely Planets, astronomer David Grinspoon is buoyantly optimistic about the possibility that we are not alone in the universe. Grinspoon, who serves as principal scientist in the Department of Space Studies at the Southwest Research Institute, lays out a detailed but not boring case for life on other planets, dropping authoritative quotes and goofy footnotes in equal measure. The Grinspoon family hung out with Carl Sagan and other astronomical royalty, giving young David an early appreciation for SETI and the heady astrobiological theorizing of the 1970s. In the 21st century, scientists are still split on the question of extraterrestrial life. Grinspoon believes that a "natural philosophy" approach is the key to furthering our knowledge in this field, since there is precious little evidence with which to apply the scientific method. Instead of looking for the familiar and testable, he writes, we should expect the unexpected.

Expecting to find DNA elsewhere is like expecting a Star Trek universe with humanoid aliens who speak English and insist that we join them for dinner at eight.

Lonely Planets is a substantial book, covering the origins of life on Earth as well as the changes in religious and social thought that have affected astronomers' search for other planets and their theoretical inhabitants. Grinspoon's style is exuberant, even a little cocky, and the result is delightful readability. Lonely Planets lets readers share the dismay of finding out there are probably no Martians and the thrill of wondering if there might be Europans. "I think our galaxy is full of species," writes Grinspoon. "The wise ones are out there waiting for us to join them." --Therese Littleton

From Publishers Weekly

Principal scientist at the Southwest Research Institute's department of space science, Grinspoon offers an up-to-date picture of the search for extraterrestrial life and the prospects of finding it in a universe that we now know contains other solar systems. It also covers the nearly four centuries that the search has been under way since the initial observations of Renaissance astronomers. As soon as biology joined the inquiring minds, theories multiplied thick and fast; the historiography of the scientific debate is complex and has the potential for being unbearably dull. But Grinspoon handles the wide variety of material necessary for a coherent narrative with great aplomb, marshalling material such as the charming Conversations, a 17th-century dialogue by a French astronomer in which a philosopher and a marquise debate astronomical topics. Even when he turns to physics, the author runs to phrases like "the Sun in its wild youth" to describe the energy output of various kinds of stars, making this book less a popularization than a personable chat on life, the universe and everything.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product details

  • File Size: 1412 KB
  • Print Length: 470 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books (March 17, 2009)
  • Publication Date: March 17, 2009
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XUAD72
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #665,551 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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