- Hardcover: 281 pages
- Publisher: Bantam (January 1, 1992)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0553080407
- ISBN-13: 978-0553080407
- Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.4 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,342,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Mind's Sky
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From Kirkus Reviews
Ferris, who usually pokes around in outer space (Coming of Age in the Milky Way, The Red Shift, etc.), probes the inner kind as well in these amusing if far-fetched essays on the human mind, the search for extraterrestrial (and thus nonhuman) intelligence (SETI), and their intersection. For Ferris, SETI is a ``campaign of exploration,'' not a science, and all the more appealing for that; lying on the edge of knowledge, it proves fertile soil for the most extravagant musings. Where might a SETI signal come from, Ferris wonders? In a sort of computer-jock's ultimate wet dream, he imagines an ``interstellar network'' of automated space stations (``the most knowledgeable entity in the galaxy'') transmitting signals to similar networks in other galaxies. This Boschian vision leads to an exciting discussion of ``virtual reality,'' wherein computers simulate a foreign environment (say, the landscape of Mars) for stay-at-home explorers. Perhaps, Ferris posits, aliens are at this very moment sending us virtual-reality reproductions of their home planets. Ferris's ponderings also veer between the provocative and the preposterous. One bright essay analyzes star football quarterback Joe Montana as an uncanny example of a ``pre-motor cortex virtuoso,'' but another piece clumsily reduces mystical experience to a fuzzy ``confrontation'' with a ``program'' in the ``inner architecture'' of the brain. Other chapters, which read for the most part as independent pieces, consider comet strikes as a source of species extinction, near-death experience, apocalyptic prophecies, information theory, and the origin of laughter. Ferris's style remains as playful as ever (``we who came down from out of the forest seek to grow a forest of knowing among the stars''); too bad the thoughts seem sometimes stretched beyond their capacity to hold or convey the truth. The mind's sky indeed--but with clouds. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
[Editor's Note: The following is a combined review with THE RED LIMIT.]--Scientifically oriented minds will rejoice at having more high-quality thinking available on audio. Since the author is speaking, he uses the opportunity to bring home his points with personal emphasis. Being a professor at UCLA, editor of ROLLING STONE, and a frequent contributor to THE NEW YORKER gives the author/reader eclectic credentials. He has done his research well and synthesized the stodgy facts into a palatable and digestible format. Synthesizer music occasionally fades in and out to separate chapters, possibly a pernicious Rolling Stones melody. The presentation is pleasantly academic without alienating listeners who are not scientists. J.A.H. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This book is what happens when poetry collides with science, and lovers of both should read the result. If you ever wondered how the brain knows what it knows, what might be waiting for us in the far reaches of the universe, or whether there might be a rational medical explanation for the feeling that God exists, I recommend this book! It may not be easy to find, but worth the effort.
- SETI (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence)
- Intergallactic communication
- Multiple intelligences (Joe Montana's premotor cortex
- Split brain studies
- Death Star (26 million year mass extinctions caused by asteroid showers resulting from the orbit and resulting change in gravitational pull of a passing 2nd star)
- Virtual Reality
- Rainforest Destruction
Ferris' book is an entertaining read and a plea for humans not to wipe ourselves out.