Books about the Search for Extraterrestrial Life
The Eerie Silence: Are we Alone in the Universe? Author Paul Davies is a physics professor and popular science writer who has tackled a number of big questions during his prolific career. While topics of interest include biological evolution and Einstein’s theory of relativity, he has also given considerable reflection to the question of extraterrestrial life. In this latest book, he wonders why, after fifty years of pointing radio telescopes skywards, the SETI project has failed to detect a single verifiable signal from an alien civilization. Confronting that dilemma forms the basis for this highly engaging and thoughtful book. Far from being a pessimistic account, Davies is much more interested in exploring the wild possibilities for ET life that might make it harder for us to detect. While he doesn’t buy in to UFO theories, he explores a number of interesting science fiction concepts from Dyson Spheres to Bracewell Probes in his highly engaging discussion. What makes this book particularly successful is Davies highly accessible writing style and flair for introducing big ideas. Read full review | Buy on Amazon
Life in the Universe Lewis Dartnell delivers a thorough and challenging introduction to the exciting field of astrobiology. This book would make a superb introductory text for undergraduate courses, and will leave casual readers with the impression that they have learned something. Dealing mainly with theories of life formation on Earth and its possibility on other bodies in our own solar system, Dartnell’s book presents astrobiology as a legitimate science with clear theoretical foundations and methods of inquiry. The current theory, as espoused by Dartnell, is that there are some upper and lower limits on environmental conditions in which it is possible for any sort of life to exist. These are bounded by temperature, pressure, and acidity. The result is that we are more likely, according to Dartnell, to find extraterrestrial life in the ‘goldilocks zone’ of neighboring stars, where heat from the star is sufficient to allow for liquid water, central in Dartnell’s view to the formation of life. While he acknowledges that other sources of heat are possible, such as in gravitational interactions between moons and large planets, Dartnell’s book tries to stay as close to foundational biological “knowns” as possible. Not a book for provoking science fiction flights of fancy, but a good resource for those who want a serious account of the state of astrobiology. Read our Review | Buy on Amazon
UFOs and the National Security State Volume 1 Author Richard Dolan’s weighty account of early UFO lore in the United States is well worth a read by both believers and skeptics. Dolan’s rare ability to appeal to both audiences is a result of his careful attention to archival data and his scholarly, objective approach to the subject matter. This book, which covers the period from WWII to 1973, touches on every major UFO flap that occurred as well as many lesser-known cases. From the Foo Fighters of the second world war, through Roswell and related cases in New Mexico in the late 1940s, through the nascent Cold War and race to the Moon, the events detailed in this book provide an alternative snapshot of twentieth century history. The most interesting accounts deal with the official government response to the UFO phenomenon, revealing tremendous concern – sometimes bordering on panic – from government authorities. At the end of the book, we are left with the unsettling feeling that some of the most important history of the previous century remains classified.