Sharing the Universe: Perspectives on Extraterrestrial Life

G. Seth Shostak, Author, Seth Shostak, Author, Frank Drake, Foreword by
G. Seth Shostak, Author, Seth Shostak, Author, Frank Drake, Foreword by Berkeley Hills Books $14.95 (206p) ISBN 978-0-9653774-3-0
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
Shostak is the Public Programs Scientist for the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute. In this fascinating speculative book, he builds a careful case for the importance of the institute's work, narrowing the range of the galaxy's possibly life-nurturing stars and imagining what forms non-carbon-based life might take. ""Although a majority of the American public is convinced that aliens are making house calls to planet Earth,"" Shostak writes, ""most scientists aren't."" In prose as lively and dramatic as the science-fiction movies he clearly savors, in the book's final chapters Shostak describes scientific reality: ""If it happens, it will begin slowly and without warning in a radio telescope's cramped, cluttered, control room.... under a hundred tons of steel faced off against the pinpoint gleams of the night sky."" The book is rich in considered, engaging science, with occasional lapses into excessive speculation about artificial intelligence in space, or into plugs for the institute. Sections on possible alien behavior, on motives for contact and means of contact--all of which make comparisons to movies--are compelling as they reveal as much about us as about anyone who may pop across for a visit. Twenty-three pages of photos and illustrations. (Mar.)
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