The Biological Universe: The Twentieth Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate and the Limits of Science / Edition 1

The Biological Universe: The Twentieth Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate and the Limits of Science / Edition 1

by Steven J. Dick
     
 

ISBN-10: 0521343267

ISBN-13: 9780521343268

Pub. Date: 06/28/1996

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Throughout the twentieth century, from the furor over Percival Lowell's claim of canals on Mars to the sophisticated Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, otherworldly life has often intrigued and occasionally consumed science and the public. Does "biological law" reign throughout the universe? Are there other histories, religions, and philosophies

Overview

Throughout the twentieth century, from the furor over Percival Lowell's claim of canals on Mars to the sophisticated Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, otherworldly life has often intrigued and occasionally consumed science and the public. Does "biological law" reign throughout the universe? Are there other histories, religions, and philosophies outside of those on Earth? Do extraterrestrial minds ponder the mysteries of the universe? The attempts to answer these often asked questions form one of the most interesting chapters in the history of science and culture, and The Biological Universe provides a rich and colorful history of those attempts during the twentieth century. Covering a broad range of topics, including the search for life in the solar system, the origins of life, UFOs, and aliens in science fiction, Steven J. Dick shows how the concept of extraterrestrial intelligence is a world view of its own, a "biophysical cosmology" that seeks confirmation no less than physical views of the universe.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780521343268
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
06/28/1996
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
596
Product dimensions:
5.98(w) x 8.98(h) x 1.50(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Tablesx
Acknowledgmentsxiii
Abbreviationsxv
Introduction1
1From the Physical World to the Biological Universe: Democritus to Lowell10
1.1The Cosmological Connection11
1.2Philosophical Explorations22
1.3Scientific Foundations29
2Plurality of Worlds and the Decline of Anthropocentrism36
2.1The Anthropocentric Universe: A. R. Wallace38
2.2The New Universe: Anthropocentrism's Demise?50
3Life in the Solar System: The Limits of Observation59
3.1Lowell and Mars: The Search for Intelligence, 1894-192462
3.2The Search for Martian Vegetation, 1924-1957105
3.3Venus: Last Hope for Intelligence126
3.4The Space Age: Lowell's Legacy Overturned135
4Planetary Systems: The Limits of Theory160
4.1Skepticism: Observational Hints and Stellar Encounters162
4.2Turning Point: 1943-1958180
4.3Optimism: Observation to the Rescue?200
5Extraterrestrials in Literature and the Arts: The Role of Imagination222
5.1The Invention of the Alien: Verne, Wells, and Lasswitz223
5.2The Development and Uses of the Alien: Burroughs to Bradbury238
5.3The Alien Comes of Age: Clarke, ET, and Beyond253
6The UFO Controversy and the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis267
6.1Rise of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis268
6.2The Peak of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis: 1965-1969288
6.3Aftermath: The Nature of Evidence and the Decline of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis in Physical Science307
7The Origin and Evolution of Life in the Extraterrestrial Context321
7.1Arrhenius and Panspermia: An Extraterrestrial Theory of the Origin of Life325
7.2Interlude: The Rise of the Chemical Theory and Its Latent Extraterrestrial Implications, 1924-1957329
7.3The Integration of Origin of Life and Extraterrestrial Life Studies in the Space Age350
7.4Evolution and Extraterrestrials: Chance and Necessity Revisited389
8SETI: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence399
8.1Prelude: The Era of Interplanetary Communication401
8.2Cornell, Ozma, and Green Bank: The Opening of the Electromagnetic Spectrum for SETI414
8.3A Rationale for SETI: Optimists, Pessimists, and the Drake Equation431
8.4A Strategy for SETI: The Development of Observational Programs454
9The Convergence of Disciplines: Birth of a New Science473
9.1Perceptions of a New Discipline475
9.2Networks: Formation of the Scientific Community478
9.3Institutions: Programs and Funding494
10The Meaning of Life: Implications of Extraterrestrial Intelligence502
10.1Perceptions of Cultural Impact503
10.2Astrotheology514
10.3Life and Purpose in the Universe: The Anthropic Principle527
11Summary and Conclusion: The Biological Universe and the Limits of Science537
11.1The Triumph of Cosmic Evolution538
11.2The Biological Universe as Cosmological Worldview541
11.3The Problematic Nature of Evidence and Inference543
11.4The Limits of Science546
11.5The Cultures of Science550
11.6Exobiology as Protoscience551
11.7Cultural Significance of the Debate552
Select Bibliographical Essay555
Index561

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