If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens ... WHERE IS EVERYBODY?: Seventy-Five Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life, Edition 2

Springer
6
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Given the fact that there are perhaps 400 billion stars in our Galaxy alone, and perhaps 400 billion galaxies in the Universe, it stands to reason that somewhere out there, in the 14-billion-year-old cosmos, there is or once was a civilization at least as advanced as our own. The sheer enormity of the numbers almost demands that we accept the truth of this hypothesis. Why, then, have we encountered no evidence, no messages, no artifacts of these extraterrestrials?

In this second, significantly revised and expanded edition of his widely popular book, Webb discusses in detail the (for now!) 75 most cogent and intriguing solutions to Fermi's famous paradox: If the numbers strongly point to the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations, why have we found no evidence of them?

Reviews from the first edition:

"Amidst the plethora of books that treat the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence, this one by Webb ... is outstanding. ... Each solution is presented in a very logical, interesting, thorough manner with accompanying explanations and notes that the intelligent layperson can understand. Webb digs into the issues ... by considering a very broad set of in-depth solutions that he addresses through an interesting and challenging mode of presentation that stretches the mind. ... An excellent book for anyone who has ever asked ‘Are we alone?’." (W. E. Howard III, Choice, March, 2003)

"Fifty ideas are presented ... that reveal a clearly reasoned examination of what is known as ‘The Fermi Paradox’. ... For anyone who enjoys a good detective story, or using their thinking faculties and stretching the imagination to the limits ... ‘Where is everybody’ will be enormously informative and entertaining. ... Read this book, and whatever your views are about life elsewhere in the Universe, your appreciation for how special life is here on Earth will be enhanced! A worthy addition to any personal library." (Philip Bridle, BBC Radio, March, 2003)

Since gaining a BSc in physics from the University of Bristol and a PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Manchester, Stephen Webb has worked in a variety of universities in the UK. He is a regular contributor to the Yearbook of Astronomy series and has published an undergraduate textbook on distance determination in astronomy and cosmology as well as several popular science books. His interest in the Fermi paradox combines lifelong interests in both science and science fiction.

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About the author

Physicist Stephen Webb is best known as author of popular science books: he has published 'Measuring the Universe - The Cosmological Distance Ladder' in 1999, the first edition of 'If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens ... WHERE IS EVERYBODY? Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life' in 2002, 'Out of this World - Colliding Universes, Branes, Strings, and Other Wild Ideas of Modern Physics' in 2004 and 'New Eyes on the Universe - Twelve Cosmic Mysteries and the Tools We Need to Solve Them' in 2012.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Springer
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Published on
May 18, 2015
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Pages
434
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ISBN
9783319132365
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Language
English
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Genres
Body, Mind & Spirit / UFOs & Extraterrestrials
Nature / Sky Observation
Science / Astronomy
Science / Earth Sciences / Geology
Science / Life Sciences / Biology
Science / Physics / Astrophysics
Technology & Engineering / Aeronautics & Astronautics
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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David Harland considers the issue of life on Mars in parallel with the origin of life on Earth. At the time the Viking instruments were designed, it was thought that all terrestrial life ultimately derived its energy from sunlight, and that the earliest form of life was the cyanobacteria with chlorophyll for photosynthesis. It was assumed the same would be the case on Mars and that microbial life would be on or near the surface that the Vikings had sampled.

No sooner were the results from the Viking instruments in, than it was discovered that there was an even older type of microbial life on Earth when, in 1977 ‘black smokers’ were found in volcanically active parts of the ocean floor, at depths of several kilometres. Removed from sunlight, these archaea (literally, ‘the old ones’) live off the minerals released by the hydrothermal activity. Subsequently our view of life was further revised when ‘extremophiles’ were discovered thriving in acidic, salty, alkaline, very hot, very cold and radiation soaked environments previously considered lethal. Although the Vikings had found no sign of organics, and the surface was extremely hostile, suggesting that life had never gained a foothold, the discovery of microbes living far beneath the surface of the Earth raised the possibility of life below the surface of Mars, where there may be water-ice and/or hydrothermal activity. Perhaps, because the microbes were beyond the reach of the Vikings’ instruments, the negative result was premature.

Following the negative tests for biological activity by the Vikings, NASA – in the belief that Mars was once warm and wet, as the erosional features on the surface suggest – decided to ‘chase the water’ in the hope of establishing that conditions on Mars were once suitable for life, although this would not prove that life had developed. The targets selected (from many) were what seemed to be an outflow channel, a dry lake and a patch of minerals emplaced by hydrothermal activity. In 1997 Mars Pathfinder landed in an outflow channel where it released the small Sojourner rover to perform chemical analyses of nearby rocks. NASA followed up in 2004 with the much larger Mars Exploration Rovers, which were equipped to act as mobile field geologists. One was landed in what seemed to be a dried up lake bed inside a crater, and the other set down in an area that a remote-sensing orbital survey had identified as haematite, a likely indicator of hydrothermal activity. Both of these missions have yielded evidence that conditions were once conducive to the development of life.

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“New Eyes on the Universe – Twelve Cosmic Mysteries and the Tools We Need to Solve Them” gives an up-to-date broad overview of some of the key issues in modern astronomy and cosmology. It describes the vast amount of observational data that the new generation of observatories and telescopes are currently producing, and how that data might solve some of the outstanding puzzles inherent in our emerging world view. Included are questions such as: What is causing the Universe to blow itself apart? What could be powering the luminous gamma-ray bursters? Where is all the matter in the Universe? Do other Earths exist? Is there intelligent life out there? The renowned author explains clearly, without recourse to mathematics, why each question is puzzling and worthy of research. Included in the study of the wide range of sensitive and powerful instruments used by scientists to try and solve these problems are ones which capture electromagnetic radiation and ‘telescopes’ for cosmic rays, neutrinos, gravitational waves, and dark matter.

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