For anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky and wondered, "Are we alone?" A brilliant examination of the science behind the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and its pioneer, Jill Tarter, the inspiration for the main character in Carl Sagan's Contact.
Jill Tarter is a pioneer, an innovator, an adventurer, and a controversial force. At a time when women weren’t encouraged to do much outside the home, Tarter ventured as far out as she couldinto the three-Kelvin cold of deep space. And she hasn’t stopped investigating a subject that takes and takes without giving much back.
Today, her computer's screensaver is just the text “SO…ARE WE ALONE?” This question keeps her up at night. In some ways, this is the question that keep us all up at night. We have all spent dark hours wondering about our place in it all, pondering our "aloneness," both terrestrial and cosmic. Tarter’s life and her work are not just a quest to understand life in the universe: they are a quest to understand our lives within the universe. No one has told that story, her story, until now.
It all began with gazing into the night sky. All those stars were just distant sunswere any of them someone else's sun? Diving into the science, philosophy, and politics of SETIsearching for extraterrestrial intelligenceSarah Scoles reveals the fascinating figure at the center of the final frontier of scientific investigation. This is the perfect book for anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky and wondered if we are alone in the universe.
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About the Author
Sarah Scoles is a science writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, Slate, Smithsonian, The Washington Post, Scientific American, Popular Science, Discover, New Scientist, Aeon, and Wired. A former editor at Astronomy magazine, Scoles worked at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the location of the first-ever SETI project. She lives in Denver, Colorado.
Table of Contents
1 How'd a Nice Girl Like You Get into a Field Like This? 23
2 Babies, Brown Dwarfs, and Big Moves 45
3 Making the Allen Telescope Array 69
4 The Future of the Alien-Hunting Telescope 93
5 A Question for Our Time 105
6 The Politics of Science and New Projects 133
7 The Quest for Contact 161
8 The Last Chapter 183
9 Extremophiles and Exoplanets 207
10 Shouting into the Void 227
A Timeline of Seti 259
Further Reading 263