Since it was founded in 1984, the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, California, has been a principal American venue for scientific efforts to discover evidence of extraterrestrial civilizations.
In mid November, the institute sponsored a conference, “Communicating across the Cosmos”, on the problems of devising and understanding messages from other worlds. The conference drew 17 speakers from numerous disciplines, including linguistics, anthropology, archeology, mathematics, cognitive science, philosophy, radio astronomy, and art.
This article is the first of a series of installments about the conference. Today, we’ll explore the ways in which our society is already sending messages to extraterrestrial civilizations, both accidentally and on purpose … full article available from Part I. Communicating Across the Cosmos, Part 1: Shouting into the Darkness.
The NASA History Program Office’s Quarterly Notes & News published in 2013, Volume 30, Number 2.
The Sound of Space workshop report ‘The Sonic Dimension of Outer Space, 1940–1980’ including a note about my presentation is available from the News & Notes: the NASA History Program Office’s Quarterly Newsletter.
I’m pleased to announce that Astrobiology, History, and Society has received a strong review in Choice, a periodical used by librarians to decide which books to acquire.
Astrobiology, history, and society: life beyond Earth and the impact of discovery, ed. by Douglas A. Vakoch. Springer, 2013. ISBN 9783642359828
Recent confirmation of observational data relating to earthlike extraterrestrial planets has resulted in the publication of numerous books commenting and speculating on the probabilities of the existence of other locales where intelligent life might reside. This raises many issues. Do scientists understand with what frequency self-replicating molecules arise? Does evolution tend to converge in such a way as to make intelligent life a frequent likely outcome when life forms? What might be the effect of the discovery of other intelligent life on humankind’s own social fabric, particularly organized religions? Few scientists have the broad expertise to comment on all of these questions. Publishing a collection of essays by specialists bypasses this difficulty. This book is a very well-balanced, detailed analysis of the subject. The individual essays maintain just the right level of uncertainty without descending into personal preferences disguised as good scientific judgment. The long introduction to the history of discussions of extraterrestrials treats both scientific and social views. Chapters relating to the possible social impacts of a successful discovery are especially interesting, raising questions about some of people’s own fundamental philosophic perspectives. This is one of the best books on the subject; it belongs in all college libraries.
Summing Up: Essential All levels/libraries.
K. L. Schick, emeritus, Union College (NY), doi: 10.5860/CHOICE.51-3815CHOICE, 2014 (51:07)
Copyright 2014 American Library Association