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eBook Here Be Dragons: The Scientific Quest for Extraterrestrial Life epub

by David Koerner

eBook Here Be Dragons: The Scientific Quest for Extraterrestrial Life epub
  • ISBN: 019514600X
  • Author: David Koerner
  • Genre: Other
  • Subcategory: Science & Mathematics
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Revised ed. edition (November 15, 2001)
  • Pages: 280 pages
  • ePUB size: 1377 kb
  • FB2 size 1512 kb
  • Formats lit lrf doc rtf


Science at its best reads like a detective story.

Science at its best reads like a detective story. Even in our solar system life might exist outside Earth. Europa, one of the moons of Jupitor, might possess an icecovered ocean.

In Here Be Dragons, astronomer David Koerner and neurobiologist Simon LeVay offer a scientifically compelling and . Arguing that the universe is spectacularly suited for the evolution of living creatures, Koerner and LeVay give us ringside seats at the great debates of Big Science.

Arguing that the universe is spectacularly suited for the evolution of living creatures, Koerner and LeVay give us ringside seats at the great debates of Big Science.

Of these, the most characteristic element of biological systems is carbon. In this chapter we will discuss why carbon is so favored by life on Earth and whether other elements could replace carbon in its dominant role on other worlds.

Here Be Dragons book.

David W. Koerner, Simon LeVay. Скачать (pdf, 1. 3 Mb).

Such life might range from simple prokaryotes (or comparable life forms) to beings with civilizations far more advanced than humanity

Such life might range from simple prokaryotes (or comparable life forms) to beings with civilizations far more advanced than humanity. The Drake equation speculates about the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

In Here Be Dragons, astronomer David Koerner and neurobiologist Simon LeVay offer a scientifically compelling and colorful account of the search for life beyond Earth. The authors survey the work of biologists, cosmologists, computer theorists, NASA engineers, SETI researchers, roboticists, and UFO enthusiasts and debunkers as they attempt to answer the greatest remaining question facing humankind: Are we alone? From their "safe haven of skepticism" the authors venture into the "rough seas of speculation," where theory and evidence run the gamut from hard science to hocus pocus. Arguing that the universe is spectacularly suited for the evolution of living creatures, Koerner and LeVay give us ringside seats at the great debates of Big Science. The contentious arguments about what really happens in evolution, the acrimonious UFO controversy, and the debate over intelligence versus artificial intelligence shed new light on the wildly divergent claims about the universe and life's place in it.
Comments: (7)
Mash
In Here Be Dragons, Koerner & Levay take us on a journey through the quest for extraterrestrial life. Filled with interesting comments and interviews with researchers in a myriad of fields, this book gives a great overview of the most current research. Discussions include how life began on earth, SETI, the search for extra-solar planets, how evolution might lead to complex organisms, speculations on life as we don't know it, and cosmology and the anthropic principle. Find out what current researchers are thinking, where we might go with this search and learn some astounding facts from astronomy and biology that might lead you to believe that life might be common after all. All this information was presented in a well written and easy to understand format. I found the discussions on the origin of life particularly illuminating. Also, the sections on recent findings in astronomy were fascinating. The book was worth getting because it contained alot of info I haven't seen elsewhere. The only part of the book I didn't like were the first 4 or 5 pages that discuss a visit to a creationism museum.
funike
Excellent review of the possibility of life on other planets
Ausstan
What I especially liked about Here Be Dragons was how every chapter was interesting. Beginning with "Origins," about possible habitats for life from scum ponds to interstellar dust clouds to deep sea ocean vents in Chapter 2 to the evolution of solar systems in Chapter 4 to the search for life beyond the sun, the SETI experience, the UFO phenomena (in a chapter entitled "Dreamland") to the possibility of non carbon-based life in Chapter 9: "Exotica: Life as We Don't Know It," the text is lively. (Chapter 3 is about "The Incredible Shrinking Martians" who have, alas, lost their canals and greenery.)
Koerner and LeVay achieve this engaging readability by presenting contrasting viewpoints from state of the art scientists, often in disagreement. Thus we have paleontologists Stephen Jay Gould and Simon Conway Morris disagreeing on how big a factor chance is in evolution, and how that might affect the prospects for the development of extraterrestrial intelligence. Frank Drake and the late Carl Sagan, who are optimistic about the possibility of contacting ETI, are paired off against people like Jared Diamond, Ben Zuckerman, Ernst Mayr, and Martin Ryle, who are not.
Other books about science try to be interesting by presenting the personalities of science, but what they miss is the conflicts. Koerner and LeVay do not. They even begin the book with a visit to the Museum of Creation and Earth History in Santee, California with its Six Days of Creation exhibits (the Darwinian fish on their vehicle hopefully not noticed). They immediately contrast this with a visit to the nearby NASA Specialized Center of Research and Training in Exobiology at La Jolla. Additionally, they sprinkle the narrative with some interesting, sometimes irreverent, observations. For example on pages 162-163 they toss in a witty jab at Stephen Gould, a brilliant man who sometimes takes himself a little too seriously. At issue is the famous (and beloved) Drake equation. The authors write: "‛It's not an equation,' Stephen Gould tells us baldly, adding his trademark chuckle to let us know that he has finally put the thing out of its misery." At another point they tell us that Frank Drake's license plate reads, "N EQLS L," which is Drake's emphatic way of asserting his belief that we are not alone.
Truthfully, though, some of this was a little over my head, in particular the material about planet-finding techniques, including the photometric method, the radial-velocity method and interferometry. I don't think that's a shortcoming of the book, but rather a shortcoming on my part. However it didn't help that the color plates are misnumbered. (Perhaps in the paperback edition that is fixed.) Also difficult, but interesting, was the material about Stuart Kauffman's "autocatalytic sets" of replicating molecules as precursors of RNA and DNA.
I want to say one thing about the anthropic principle addressed in Chapter 9. We have a sampling of one. A sampling of one is better than no sampling at all. In fact the difference between no sampling at all and one sampling is greater than the difference between samplings one and two, and two and three...etc. It means something, believe it. We're here. That implies that the universe had to be a certain way, which excludes a whole bunch of presumably possible universes. But if the universe were different perhaps some other creatures would be (t)here rhapsodizing over just how miraculous all their coincidences are. To get all thrilled about how everything in the universe had to be exactly so otherwise we wouldn't have arrived is like getting all thrilled at bridge because you were dealt exactly the cards you were dealt since the odds against getting exactly those thirteen individual cards are astronomical.
I also like the tone of "Here Be Dragons" (from the cartographers of old), which is midway between dead earnestness and TGIF casual. The prose is lively and witty and very readable while being informative in an exciting way. I suspect a lot of hard work went into making this a book that the general public could get a lot out of. I know I did.
Hanelynai
Science at its best reads like a detective story. Authors David Koerner and Simon LeVay certainly convey this feeling in their wide-ranging overview of the search for ETs in the universe. Even in our solar system life might exist outside Earth. Europa, one of the moons of Jupitor, might possess an icecovered ocean. With all the right ingredients for life down in a dark ocean. Another likely candidate is the Saturn moon Titan. Even though it seems a pretty cold place at minus 178 degress Celcius. In its atmosphere one is likely to find amino acids, nucleotide bases and many other building blocks of life. All of which is thoroughly described by Koerner and Levay in an easy and engaging way.
And surely a lot of the other stars must have planets. In a little treat of a chapter authors Koerner and Levay makes the case for stars with planets. Some of them with life on them. That is life as we know it. Still a number of other possibilities (infinite ?) exists.
Without goning into the details of the examples in the book - one possibility in particular excites me. And I think they should have dwelled more on it than they actually do: Take life on an neutron star. A neutron star is the superdense remnant of a supernova explosion. The original star collapses to a state were gravity overcomes repulsion between electrons and protons. They then fuses forming a sea of neutrons. Life there could exists as patterns of bounded neutrons. With a breakneck speed of metabolism. Where organism live and die within 10e-15 seconds. Entire civilisations might be formed within a fraction of second. Advanced civilisation might create such neutron stars in order to use them as computers. Some 10e30 time more powerful than the human brain. The authors regrettablely stops here - I think it could be relevant to speculate further on installing computers in spacetime itself, just taking the neutron star example one step further to a black hole, that explodes into a new universe (big bang) with the order (computer) installed in its very fabric of space time.
Still the book "Here be dragons" is highly recomended as it takes on all the interesting questions: Who are we ? Where do we come from ? Are we alone ? and let you in on the detective story of finding some answers. -Simon
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