- Hardcover: 464 pages
- Publisher: Ecco; 1 edition (November 4, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060185406
- ISBN-13: 978-0060185404
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 29 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,596,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
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.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
Lonely Planets begins with a lightweight history of thinking about the universe and the possibility that life may be scattered through it. Grinspoon's quick reviews of planetary exploration, comparative planetology, and panspermia will be useful to those who have not studied those subjects. He devotes a large section of the book to a discussion of what life is and how it might exist in other environments. His slant on these issues is more original than most. Grinspoon briefly describes SETI and the paradox associated with Fermi (he was not the first to think of it), concluding that it is premature to rule out any present or past alien presence in our solar system.
Grinspoon give us a humorous treatment of ufology, and a somewhat less whimsical approach to astrotheology. His recognition of Russian cosmism is welcome, but his attempt to outline his own version of natural philosophy will leave most readers confused.
The author intrudes too much into his subject matter through his frequent self-references. Too often, he sounds like an insider whose personal connections are as important as his ideas. His assumption that all of his readers share the musical tastes of Baby Boomers ignores the other seventy-one per cent of the population.
This book presents a different view than that of "Rare Earth" (another excellent book).
It's a buy!
Insightful, hilarious, and spell-binding, this book has quite literally changed my life. It is the book that made me realize my love for science, and space. It opened the doors to my respect and reverence for Carl Sagan and Fontanelle. It has led me to buy numerous other books on astronomy and astrobiology, and i'm in the process of buying a telescope right now. It has made me genuinely enthusiastic about something. It has made me enjoy a field of knowledge that I had previously thought was a one way ticket to snoozeville. Please, if you are debating this purchase, just go for it. This book is absolutely amazing, and it's only a fault of my own that I cannot properly articulate how I feel about it.