Cosmos and Culture: Cultural Evolution in a Cosmic Context: Cultural Evolution in a Cosmic Context

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Brand new. We distribute directly for the publisher. NASA-SP-2009-4802. NASA History Series. Edited by Steven J. Dick and Mark L. Lupisella. Authors with diverse backgrounds in ... science, history, anthropology, and more, consider culture in the context of the cosmos. How does our knowledge of cosmic evolution affect terrestrial culture? Conversely, how does our knowledge of cultural evolution affect our thinking about possible cultures in the cosmos? Are life, mind, and culture of fundamental significance to the grand story of the cosmos that has generated its own self-understanding through science, rational reasoning, and mathematics? Book includes bibliographical references and an index. Hardcover and dust jacket. Read more Show Less

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Product Description: During the last 50 years, coincident with the Space Age, cosmic evolution has been recognized as the master narrative of the universe, history writ large. Cosmic evolution includes physical, biological, and cultural evolution, and of these the latter is by far the most rapid.  In this volume, authors with diverse backgrounds in science, history, anthropology, and more, consider culture in the context of the cosmos. How does our knowledge of cosmic evolution affect terrestrial culture? Conversely, how does our knowledge of cultural evolution affect our thinking about possible cultures in the cosmos? Are life, mind, and culture of fundamental significance to the grand story of the cosmos that has generated its own self-understanding through science, rational reasoning, and mathematics? Might this lead to cultural evolution on a large enough scale to allow the universe to both create and steer itself toward its own destiny? 

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
 Reviews from Goodreads:

John Carter McKnight rated it with 4 stars and had this to say:

"Anthology of uniformly high quality. Diverse enough that few will find all the articles exceptionally interesting.It's divided into three parts: a pair of introductory essays on cosmic evolution, grounded in current work in complexity studies, a section on cultural evolution (cultural anthropology and memetics) and a back half on philosophy. I found the first three essays - the opening section and Kathryn Denning's long piece on the anthropology of SETI - really first rate and fascinating; the memetics pieces interesting, and little of the back half worthwhile, but I don't have much patience for philosophy.

The volume's subject to the critique that it's wishful thinking about extraterrestrial intelligence and our species having a future at astronomical timescales, dressed up in speculative science: that's a fair categorization of the back half, thought he front half has much to offer the scholar working on more ordinary timescales."

So Hakim rated it with two (2) stars and had this to say, "Interesting big picture, interesting topics -- but sadly couldn't manage for enjoyable narrative. Which is a shame; I personally feel this book can be magnificent if it has more engaging style. For serious learners only."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780160831195
  • Publisher: US National Aeronautics and Space Admin
  • Publication date: 3/9/2010
  • Edition description: First
  • Pages: 612
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven J. Dick is the former Chief Historian for NASA. He obtained his B.S. in astrophysics (1971) and his M.A. and Ph.D. (1977) in history and philosophy of science from Indiana University. He worked as an astronomer and historian of science at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, for 24 years before coming to NASA Headquarters in 2003. Among his books are Plurality of Worlds: The Origins of the Extraterrestrial Life Debate from Democritus to Kant (1982), The Biological Universe: The Twentieth Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate and the Limits of Science (1996), and Life on Other Worlds (1998). The latter has been translated into Chinese, Italian, Czech, Polish and Greek. His most recent books are The Living Universe: NASA and the Development of Astrobiology (2004) and a comprehensive history of the U.S. Naval Observatory, Sky and Ocean Joined: The U.S. Naval Observatory, 1830–2000 (2003). The latter received the Pendleton Prize of the Society for History in the Federal Government.  He is editor of Many Worlds: The New Universe, Extraterrestrial Life and the Theological Implications (2000), editor (with Keith Cowing) of the proceedings of the NASA Administrator's symposium Risk and Exploration: Earth, Sea and the Stars (2005), and (with Roger Launius) of Critical Issues in the History of Spaceflight (2006) and Societal Impact of Spaceflight (2007). He is the recipient of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Medal. He received the NASA Group Achievement Award for his role in NASA’s multidisciplinary program in astrobiology. He has served as chairman of the Historical Astronomy Division of the American Astronomical Society as president of the History of Astronomy Commission of the International Astronomical Union, and he as president of the Philosophical Society of Washington.  He is a member of the International Academy of Astronautics.

Mark L. Lupisella works for NASA as an engineer and scientists. He has worked on the Hubble Space telescope, Mars planning, Exploration and Constellation programs, wearable computing, astrobiology, artificial life, and many other areas. He is the author of over 25 published works and received NASA’s Space Flight Awareness Award for his work on the Hubble Space Telescope. 

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Table of Contents


Table of Contents:Introduction: Mark Lupisella/Steve Dick The Cosmic Context·        Steven Dick, "Cosmic Evolution, Astrobiology and SETI: Key to Human Destiny”

  • Eric Chaisson, "Cosmic Evolution: State of the Science"
 Cultural Evolution 
  • Kathryn Denning, "Cultural Evolution: State of the Field"
  • Susan Blackmore, "The Dangerous Inevitability of Memes"
  • John Smart, "Universal Evolutionary Development, Accelerating Change, and Cosmic Culture: A Speculative Framework"
  • Howard Bloom: “The Big Burp: The Birth of the Family of DNA and The Four-Billion-Year Biography of Culture”
 Cosmos and Culture 
  • Mark Lupisella: "Cosmocultural Evolution: Genes, Machines and Cosmic Ethics"
  • Paul Davies, "Life, Mind and Culture as Fundamental Properties of the Universe."
  • James Gardner, "The Intelligent Universe"
  • Seth Shostak, "The Cosmic Bottleneck"
  • Doug Vakoch, “Interstellar Message Construction and Decipherment”
  • David Christian, “Maps of Time: Implications for Culture and Cosmos"
  • Steven Dick, "Bringing Cosmos to Culture: The Postbiological Universe"
  • JoAnn Palmeri, "Bringing Cosmos to Culture: Harlow Shapley and the Uses of Cosmic Evolution"
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