Aliens: The World's Leading Scientists on the Search for Extraterrestrial Life by Jim Al-Khalili

Aliens: The World's Leading Scientists on the Search for Extraterrestrial Life

In these lively and fascinating essays, scientists from around the world weigh in on the latest advances in the search for intelligent life in the universe and discuss just what that might look like. Since 2000, science has seen a surge in data and interest on several fronts related to E.T. (extraterrestrials); A.I. (artificial intelligence); and SETI (search for extraterr...

Title:Aliens: The World's Leading Scientists on the Search for Extraterrestrial Life
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:1250109639
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:240 pages

Aliens: The World's Leading Scientists on the Search for Extraterrestrial Life Reviews

  • Staci

    This is a decent book, mostly sort of summaries of the history of searching for extraterrestrial life (including claims of UFO sightings and abduction by aliens), what we know so far about how life began and what we are looking for to determine other planets that could hold life, what we are looking for regarding technological signals, etc. None of the chapters really go too deep -- again, they're basically summaries -- so the book itself doesn't really go to deep. A good number of the contribut

    This is a decent book, mostly sort of summaries of the history of searching for extraterrestrial life (including claims of UFO sightings and abduction by aliens), what we know so far about how life began and what we are looking for to determine other planets that could hold life, what we are looking for regarding technological signals, etc. None of the chapters really go too deep -- again, they're basically summaries -- so the book itself doesn't really go to deep. A good number of the contributors mention the James Webb telescope which is expected to launch in 2018 and that's kind of telling for where we evidently currently stand regarding SETI (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) and the overall takeaway from the book which is basically "not there yet but we hope to know more as technology improves".

  • Heather

    Like any collection written by several different authors, some of these essays are better than others. A few were simply over my head, but I thought most were fascinating.

    There are some very different opinions about the likelihood of alien life existing in the Universe, and this collection explores several of them well. Different scientists have studied the same evidence and come to different opinions. Most believe that alien life is nearly certain, following the logic of Stephen Hawking when h

    Like any collection written by several different authors, some of these essays are better than others. A few were simply over my head, but I thought most were fascinating.

    There are some very different opinions about the likelihood of alien life existing in the Universe, and this collection explores several of them well. Different scientists have studied the same evidence and come to different opinions. Most believe that alien life is nearly certain, following the logic of Stephen Hawking when he said, “To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational." Others think the development of life on earth was an incredibly lucky fluke. They all provide strong arguments to support their theories, which are interesting to think about no matter what conclusions you come to yourself.

    I enjoyed the philosophical debates in this collection as well as the scientific facts and hypotheses. As a Christian who considers science fully compatible with my faith, questions about the actual definition of life (believe it or not, there's not complete consensus on this among scientists) and what the implications would be if we detected alien life are very intriguing to me. No matter what you believe about God or your opinion about the existence of aliens, this is a very thought-provoking collection for those interested in the topic.

    I'll wrap this up with the two most mind-blowing things I learned: one, scientists have recently developed the technology to determine what's in the atmospheres of planets light-years away, particularly the signature gasses of life as we know it (oxygen, methane, and many others). NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, which should launch in 2018, will be able to perform atmospheric studies of the planets around nearly half a million nearby stars. Two, many scientists believe that alien intelligence, if we ever detect it, will be in the form of artificial intelligence, meaning that they'll have made the transition from decaying, mortal organic lifeforms to silicon-based machines. Alien robots!!! Don't panic; there's an entire essay about why aliens would be unlikely to want to cause us any harm, and fortunately it's very convincing.

  • Edward Fenner

    This is a really good collection of essays by many of the leaders in the field. They make good arguments and tell fascinating stories. The tone is pretty level from author to author but the writing styles are, naturally, often quite different; such are the circumstances of an edited collection. That said, there is a ton of good stuff here and lots to cool things to learn. My only complaint with this book is that it is entirely text. Not one image, graphic, chart, illustration, or photograph of a

    This is a really good collection of essays by many of the leaders in the field. They make good arguments and tell fascinating stories. The tone is pretty level from author to author but the writing styles are, naturally, often quite different; such are the circumstances of an edited collection. That said, there is a ton of good stuff here and lots to cool things to learn. My only complaint with this book is that it is entirely text. Not one image, graphic, chart, illustration, or photograph of any kind appears. It's a lost opportunity that would have greatly enhanced many of the writings.

  • Kiseruyoru

    It's fine, but not worth buying the audiobook/new.

    Basically, it's just kinda boring. Here, I'll sum up the whole thing for you.

    1: If we can find life that is not related to the known life tree on Earth, then life in the universe is more or less certain.

    2: If we can find life anywhere but here or Mars life, then in the universe is more or less certain.

    3: We should consider more types of life than we can comprehend: except that, by definition, we cannot.

    4: We might be looking for alien AI, not b

    It's fine, but not worth buying the audiobook/new.

    Basically, it's just kinda boring. Here, I'll sum up the whole thing for you.

    1: If we can find life that is not related to the known life tree on Earth, then life in the universe is more or less certain.

    2: If we can find life anywhere but here or Mars life, then in the universe is more or less certain.

    3: We should consider more types of life than we can comprehend: except that, by definition, we cannot.

    4: We might be looking for alien AI, not bio-life.

    5: The origins of life of Earth are pretty well understood, tho we have not nailed down a specific starting point.

    6: It is either the height of hubris to assume there is ETI, or the height of hubris to assume there is not.

    In other words: The very nature of the question is such that only positive confirmation could currently provide anything like knowledge of the question. Not just the answer, but the question itself. Which. . . . I cannot help but feel most people already know this.

    And my personal thoughts on the matter, or the thoughts of others I have adopted, are irrelevant to the above criticism of the book. It doesn't matter what you believe, the book provides no light. Not that I expected it to do so; I expected it to be entertaining, and it just wasn't good at that.

  • Ludi Nel

    Loved loved loved this book. Great concepts that really interest me is discussed at length in this book. If you want to potentially understand life on other planets you first have to understand life on this planet, how it started (chemistry, abiogenisys and panspermia). Also go into some depth into the current techniques used to detect exoplanets and the future missions to detect bio signatures on exoplanets. very interesting science.

    The books is a volume of scientific SA's written by people lea

    Loved loved loved this book. Great concepts that really interest me is discussed at length in this book. If you want to potentially understand life on other planets you first have to understand life on this planet, how it started (chemistry, abiogenisys and panspermia). Also go into some depth into the current techniques used to detect exoplanets and the future missions to detect bio signatures on exoplanets. very interesting science.

    The books is a volume of scientific SA's written by people leaders in their own field that touches on what we need to understand to discovering life on other planets, be it in our own solar system or beyond.

    Really great book!!!

  • Angela

    A sometimes boring, sometimes repetitive, but often informative journey through current science on the search for extraterrestrial aliens. What I learned from this book, which from the reviews appears to be a rather basic primer, is that all life on Earth is united by the proton-motive electrical force, all multicellular life owes its existence to a prokaryote miraculously absorbing another prokaryote to create a eukaryote with mitochondria, all life on Earth is dependent on universally basic el

    A sometimes boring, sometimes repetitive, but often informative journey through current science on the search for extraterrestrial aliens. What I learned from this book, which from the reviews appears to be a rather basic primer, is that all life on Earth is united by the proton-motive electrical force, all multicellular life owes its existence to a prokaryote miraculously absorbing another prokaryote to create a eukaryote with mitochondria, all life on Earth is dependent on universally basic elements like carbon and nitrogen, but that's not necessarily what other life will be based on, and if life on other planets is to be found, it will probably be bacteria or artificial intelligence with zero to minimal interest in eating us or even paying us any attention.

  • James Easterson

    Here I am, reading about all the incredible odds that life could exist here on Earth and the impossibility that that could occur again anywhere else in the universe. They just about have me convinced that there is no life here on Earth, and no cosmos given the razor thin balance of the cosmological constant. Think I'll have another beer. 🍺

    So my question is: Does the potential to become something have an unrealized influence on the probability that it "will" become something, thus overcoming imp

    Here I am, reading about all the incredible odds that life could exist here on Earth and the impossibility that that could occur again anywhere else in the universe. They just about have me convinced that there is no life here on Earth, and no cosmos given the razor thin balance of the cosmological constant. Think I'll have another beer. 🍺

    So my question is: Does the potential to become something have an unrealized influence on the probability that it "will" become something, thus overcoming impossible odds at multiple turns? Seems a common occurrence. It also seems a bit in the nature of quantum theory that this could be true. Just a unlikely thought.

    "There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

  • Dimas

    I bought this book with the expectation that this would be somewhat accessible. I guess that's my fault. I should have remembered that scientists or academics tend to be poor writers. I found most of this to be a chore to read. The text was dry and full of jargon I didn't understand.

    This is a disappointment because I find the topic of the book compelling. Like I really wanted to enjoy this collection. The essays I found to be the most compelling were the ones that sort of combined pop culture e

    I bought this book with the expectation that this would be somewhat accessible. I guess that's my fault. I should have remembered that scientists or academics tend to be poor writers. I found most of this to be a chore to read. The text was dry and full of jargon I didn't understand.

    This is a disappointment because I find the topic of the book compelling. Like I really wanted to enjoy this collection. The essays I found to be the most compelling were the ones that sort of combined pop culture elements with the science. This included an essay about the best aliens in movies and literature and an essay about how an octopus brain compares to an alien brain.

Top Books is in no way intended to support illegal activity. We uses Search API to find the overview of books over the internet, but we don't host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners, please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them. Read our DMCA Policies and Disclaimer for more details.