Snap, Crackle ... Chirp? Or, Looking for Life in All the Wrong Places
The silence is only eerie if you try to listen too hard. Efforts to confirm that there is intelligence elsewhere in the universe have, to put it mildly, fizzled. Each new theory about why we can't find intelligent life anywhere else in the universe ends up like a damp firecracker: there's a bunch of crackling in the blogosphere, but there's never any bang.
So. It seems that Paul Davies has published the equivalent of a benign stick of TNT reiterating all the failed attempts, and then coming up with a few new zany ideas. Instead, he might consider reading in Signature in the Cell about the evidence for intelligent design that booms out of DNA right here on this planet.
The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence Paul Davies. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-0-547-13324-9 In what has become known as Fermi's Paradox, the great nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi once asked, if there are aliens out there, where is everybody? After 50 years of looking, the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project has likewise failed to find anybody. Cosmologist Davies (The Mind of God), winner of the 1995 Templeton Prize, believes that SETI's search for narrow-band radio signals from planets around other stars needs to be broadened to look for other possible signs of life. Aliens may be using far more advanced technology than radio to signal the cosmos, such as manipulating pulsars to act as beacons or even neutrino signaling. Davies also puts forth the possibility that alien probes may be silently trolling the solar system. The author surveys popular topics in science fiction such as Dyson spheres, time travel, and wormholes, and decides that they're not feasible under physics as we understand it. He concludes with a far-ranging look at what might happen here on Earth when we make first contact. Highly recommended for both science fiction and astronomy buffs. Illus. (Apr. 13)