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Book Title: Intelligent Life in the Universe|
The author of the book: Carl Sagan
Date of issue: November 16th 1998
ISBN 13: 9781892803023
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 13.50 MB
Edition: Emerson-Adams Press
Read full description of the books Intelligent Life in the Universe:Read it in the late 70s, in the original hardcover edition from 1966 (apparently not even listed here at Goodreads), as background while preparing a review of Carl Sagan's 1979 popular-science book, Broca's Brain. This collaboration with Soviet astrophysicist Iosif Shklovsky, which was a revised, extended, and retitled version of a book Shklovsky had published in 1962, struck me when I read it—and still does—as scientifically much more serious and focused than what I was reviewing. And yet I can see now a similarity: informed speculation. Among other subjects, Broca's Brain presented some of what Sagan had managed to glean from a field not his own, neuroscience, and from there ventured upon some guesses. (Though it had its virtues, the book also advanced a romanticized view of the nature of scientific work.) Likewise, Intelligent Life in the Universe first broadly surveyed much of what was known about biology, astrophysics, et al., before considering some possibilities for further thought and research. As its title reveals, smart aliens were among the possibilities. In science, which is never complete, somebody somewhere must always speculate.
Some parts of the book's survey of astrophysics remain with me still: a chart known as a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, for instance, and the most common path of development for a star, called the main sequence. Mostly lost in the mists are its thoughts about life elsewhere in the universe. My middling rating therefore is based mainly on not remembering the book in much detail.
Some reviewers here have called the book dated. In science, work done yesterday may be dated today. What matters is whether it was in any way fruitful or useful. Wikipedia's entry on Shklovsky assesses Intelligent Life in the Universe as "the first comprehensive discussion of this field" without attributing it (which such entries aren't supposed to do). My guess is that the book occupies a particular place—though I can't say exactly what it is—in the history of what we now call exobiology. In a recent glance through the endnotes of an upcoming book on the subject, Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars, I noticed a reference to this work, so I'm not the only one to see it as old but not forgotten.
Read information about the authorin 1934, scientist Carl Sagan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. After earning bachelor and master's degrees at Cornell, Sagan earned a double doctorate at the University of Chicago in 1960. He became professor of astronomy and space science and director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University, and co-founder of the Planetary Society. A great popularizer of science, Sagan produced the PBS series, "Cosmos," which was Emmy and Peabody award-winning, and was watched by 500 million people in 60 countries. A book of the same title came out in 1980, and was on The New York Times bestseller list for 7 weeks. Sagan was author, co-author or editor of 20 books, including The Dragons of Eden (1977), which won a Pulitzer, Pale Blue Dot (1995) and The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark (1996), his hardest-hitting on religion. With his wife, Ann Druyan, he was co-producer of the popular motion picture, "Contact," which featured a feminist, atheist protagonist played by Jodie Foster (1997). The film came out after Sagan's death, following a 2-year struggle with a bone marrow disease. Sagan played a leading role in NASA's Mariner, Viking, Voyager, and Galileo expeditions to other planets. Ann Druyan, in the epilogue to Sagan's last book, Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium (published posthumously in 1997), gives a moving account of Carl's last days: "Contrary to the fantasies of the fundamentalists, there was no deathbed conversion, no last minute refuge taken in a comforting vision of a heaven or an afterlife. For Carl, what mattered most was what was true, not merely what would make us feel better. Even at this moment when anyone would be forgiven for turning away from the reality of our situation, Carl was unflinching. As we looked deeply into each other's eyes, it was with a shared conviction that our wondrous life together was ending forever."
For his work, Dr. Sagan received the NASA medals for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and (twice) for Distinguished Public Service, as well as the NASA Apollo Achievement Award. Asteroid 2709 Sagan is named after him. He was also awarded the John F. Kennedy Astronautics Award of the American Astronautical Society, the Explorers Club 75th Anniversary Award, the Konstantin Tsiolkovsky Medal of the Soviet Cosmonauts Federation, and the Masursky Award of the American Astronomical Society, ("for his extraordinary contributions to the development of planetary science…As a scientist trained in both astronomy and biology, Dr. Sagan has made seminal contributions to the study of planetary atmospheres, planetary surfaces, the history of the Earth, and exobiology. Many of the most productive planetary scientists working today are his present and former students and associates").
He was also a recipient of the Public Welfare Medal, the highest award of the National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Sagan was elected Chairman of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, President of the Planetology Section of the American Geophysical Union, and Chairman of the Astronomy Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. For twelve years he was the editor-in-chief of Icarus, the leading professional journal devoted to planetary research. He was cofounder and President of the Planetary Society, a 100,000-member organization that is the largest space-interest group in the world; and Distinguished Visiting Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology.
In their posthumous award to Dr. Sagan of their highest honor, the National Science Foundation declared that his "research transformed planetary science… his gifts to mankind were infinite." D. 1996.
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