If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens ... WHERE IS EVERYBODY?: Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life

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Springer Science & Business Media, Jun 1, 2006 - Science - 288 pages
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FROM THE REVIEWS: ¿Webb offers coherent, understandable, and sometimes humorous coverage of a diverse range of topics. He provides readers with non-trivial insights into research fields they may not have encountered previously . . . I think everyone who has ever considered the possibility that other intelligent civilizations exist elsewhere within our galaxy will enjoy Where Is Everybody? They will find much to agree with, and much to argue about, in this very accessible volume.¿ ¿SCIENCE During a Los Alamos lunchtime conversation that took place more than 50 years ago, four world-class scientists agreed, given the size and age of the Universe, that advanced extraterrestrial civilizations simply had to exist. The sheer numbers demanded it. But one of the four, the renowned physicist and back-of-the-envelope calculator Enrico Fermi, asked the telling question: If the extraterrestrial life proposition is true, he wondered, "Where IS everybody?" In this lively and thought-provoking book, Stephen Webb presents a detailed discussion of the 50 most cogent and intriguing answers to Fermi's famous question, divided into three distinct groups: - Aliens are already here among us. Here are answers ranging from Leo Szilard's suggestion that they are already here, and we know them as Hungarians, to the theorists who claim that aliens built Stonehenge and the Easter Island statues. - Aliens exist, but have not yet communicated. The theories in this camp range widely, from those who believe we simply don't have the technologies to receive their signals, to those who believe the enormities of space and time work against communication, to those who believe they're hiding from us. - Aliens do not exist. Here are the doubters' arguments, from the Rare Earth theory to the author's own closely argued and cogently stated skepticism. The proposed solutions run the gamut from the crackpot to the highly serious, but all deserve our consideration. The varieties of arguments -- from first-rate scientists, philosophers and historians, and science fiction authors -- turn out to be astonishing, entertaining, and vigorous intellectual exercises for any reader interested in science and the sheer pleasure of speculative thinking. Stephen Webb is a physicist working at the Open University in England and the author of Measuring the Universe.
 

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User Review  - Big_Bang_Gorilla - LibraryThing

This is an outstanding presentation of the author's evaluation of fifty possible explanations for Fermi's paradox, i.e., why we have never contacted an alien civilization when the logic and the math ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - will5352 - LibraryThing

I was totally unimpressed by this book. If I could have given it a zero, I would have. As it is 1/2 star is the least I can give it. In some calculations I believe the basic math is wrong by factors for 10 or 100 due to misplaced decimal points. Read full review

Contents

Where Is Everybody?
1
Of Fermi and Paradox
7
Enrico Fermi
8
Paradox
12
The Fermi Paradox
17
They Are Here
27
They Are Here and They Call Themselves Hungarians
28
They Are Here and Are Meddling in Human Affairs
29
They Are Somewhere But the Universe Is Stranger Than We Imagine
121
A Choice of Catastrophes
122
They Hit the Singularity
134
Cloudy Skies Are Common
137
Us
138
They Do Not Exist
141
The Universe Is Here for Us
143
Life Can Have Emerged Only Recently
147

They Were Here and Left Evidence of Their Presence
33
They Exist and They Are Us We Are All Aliens
44
The Zoo Scenario
46
The Interdict Scenario
49
The Planetarium Hypothesis
51
God Exists
55
They Exist But Have Not Yet Communicated
61
The Stars Are Far Away
62
They Have Not Had Time to Reach Us
72
A Percolation Theory Approach
74
Bracewellvon Neumann Probes
79
We Are Solar Chauvinists
84
They Stay at Home
85
and Surf the Net
86
They Are Signaling But We Do Not Know How to Listen
88
They Are Signaling But We Do Not Know at Which Frequency to Listen
94
Our Search Strategy Is Wrong
102
The Signal Is Already There in the Data
105
We Have Not Listened Long Enough
106
Everyone Is Listening No One Is Transmitting
108
Berserkers
111
They Have No Desire to Communicate
113
They Develop a Different Mathematics
116
They Are Calling But We Do Not Recognize the Signal
118
Planetary Systems Are Rare
150
We Are the First
153
Rocky Planets Are Rare
156
Continuously Habitable Zones Are Narrow
158
Jupiters Are Rare
160
Earth Has an Optimal Pump of Evolution
164
The Galaxy Is a Dangerous Place
166
A Planetary System Is a Dangerous Place
172
Earths System of Plate Tectonics Is Unique
180
The Moon Is Unique
184
Lifes Genesis Is Rare
189
The ProkaryoteEukaryote Transition Is Rare
206
Toolmaking Species Are Rare
211
Technological Progress Is Not Inevitable
215
Intelligence at the Human Level Is Rare
217
Language Is Unique to Humans
223
Science Is Not Inevitable
231
Conclusion
233
The Fermi Paradox Resolved
234
Notes and Further Reading
241
References
275
Index
283
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