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  Themes: SETI - Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence 
   66 books in this theme  
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sorted by publication date unless unknown

  1964  We Are Not Alone by Walter Sullivan (Amazon - Alibris)  
  1972  Listeners, The by James E. Gunn (Amazon - Alibris)  
  1975  Star Web, The by George Zebrowski (Amazon - Alibris)  
  1977  Murmurs of Earth by Carl Sagan (Amazon - Alibris)  
  1978  Vulcan! by Kathleen Sky (Amazon - Alibris)  
  1984  Infinity Link , The by Jeffrey A. Carver (Amazon - Alibris)  
           Year's Best Science Fiction: First Annual Collection, The by Gardner R. Dozois (Amazon - Alibris)  
  1985  Contact by Carl Sagan (Amazon - Alibris)  
           Crunch Bunch, The by David Bischoff (Amazon - Alibris)  
           Emprise by Michael Kube-McDowell (Amazon - Alibris)  
  1987  Beyond Humanity by Justin Leiber (Amazon - Alibris)  
           Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Listening for Life by Thomas R. McDonough (Amazon - Alibris)  
  1989  Starfarers by Vonda N. McIntyre (Amazon - Alibris)  
  1990  Cortez on Jupiter by Ernest Hogan (Amazon - Alibris)  
           Eternal Enemy, The by Michael Berlyn (Amazon - Alibris)  
           Looking for the Aliens by Peter Hough (Amazon - Alibris)  
           Seti by Frederick Fichman (Amazon - Alibris)  
  1991  Dark Beyond the Stars, The by Frank M. Robinson (Amazon - Alibris)  
  1995  Journey to Andromeda by Giacinto Pira (Amazon - Alibris)  
           Ultimate Alien, The by Byron Preiss, John Gregory Betancourt, Keith DeCandido (Amazon - Alibris)  
  1996  Are We Alone? : Philosophical Implications of the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life by Paul C. W. Davies (Amazon - Alibris)  
           Sparrow, The by Mary Doria Russell (Amazon - Alibris)  
  1997  After Contact: The Human Response to Extraterrestrial Life by Albert A. Harrison (Amazon - Alibris)  
           Close Encounters! by David Cody Weiss (Amazon - Alibris)  
           Planet Quest : The Epic Discovery of Alien Solar Systems by Ken Croswell (Amazon - Alibris)  
           Quest for Alien Planets: Exploring Worlds Outside the Solar System, The by Paul Halpern (Amazon - Alibris)  
           Searching for Alien Life: Is Anyone Out There? by Dennis Brindell Fradin (Amazon - Alibris)  
           Worlds Unnumbered : The Search for Extrasolar Planets by Donald Goldsmith, Jon Lomberg (Amazon - Alibris)  
  1998  Alien Life: The Search for Extraterrestrials and Beyond by Barry Parker (Amazon - Alibris)  
           Other Worlds: The Search for Life in the Universe by Michael D. Lemonick (Amazon - Alibris)  

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   About this theme  
  One day, maybe in our lifetime, we're going to turn on the TV, and the news will be announcing that radio astronomers have discovered a message from space. It will eventually be verified as real.

At first, scientists will not understand the message. The first message may be so complex we won't be able to decipher it, or we may get an introductory message from afar that was designed for easy decoding. It won't matter which, the important factor will be the proof that we are not alone in the universe.

Our society accepts the concept of alien lifeforms so thoroughly that it's easy to forget how we really don't know they exist. Intelligent ETs are part of stories, television, movies, songs, commercials, toys, etc. And this isn't a recent concept brought about by the world of science fiction. The ancient Greeks speculated about life on other worlds, as did the Romans. For centuries people have speculated about life on the moon. When the telescope was developed and applied to studying the planets, it was commonly accepted that beings lived on those worlds. The human race has been thinking about other forms of intelligent life for a very long time. We've just been waiting to meet them.

SETI, or the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is the scientific study of the concept. Mostly it's philosophical. The real question they ask is: "are we alone?" So far, after years of searching millions of radio wavelengths from every part of the sky, there has been no luck in finding a signal. Some scientists theorize that the factors going into the development of intelligent life on our planet are so complex, that even in a universe as large as ours, we may be the only self aware lifeforms around. Other scientists try to make a case that life arises easily in the universe, and thus, the chances for evolution and intelligent life should be common.

SETI represents the effort to try and find evidence of communication between intelligent life in the universe. Despite all our centuries of speculation, it's only been in the last few decades that we have seriously tried to search for life outside of our solar system. Even now, not a great deal of money is being spent on the project. But this is an important endeavor, so it's worth some reading time, web searching time, and definitely worth donating money to, and campaigning for the government to spend more.

The 21st Century represents a lot of potential. Society as a whole is getting better and better at organizing and developing a safe lifesytle for its citizens. We're all getting fat and happy. Life is becoming routine, and when we think of the future, we basically look forward to the new television season, or a summer's vacation, or a pay raise. We are being bought out by the mundane. We should not forget where the unknown lies. We can't let our enjoyment of STAR TREK and STAR WARS let us forget the reality of science.

SETI represents one of several exciting projects to be pursued in the 21st century. Some of the others are the colonization of the moon, Mars and space, the building of artificial intelligence and robots, life extension, genetic engineering, rocket propulsion, and so on. It is important that you support SETI. You can do that by studying the ideas behind the concept and support efforts for funding research.

One day, you will be listening to the television and it won't be science fiction. What will it mean to the psychology of the human race to know we are not alone?

Mankind's attempt to find out if we are not along in this vast universe goes back centuries. This long endeavor essentially divides into three parts.

For most of history, we have only been able to speculate about life on other worlds. The Greeks started the ball rolling when they developed the concept of the atom, and figured if atoms made this world, and if the universe was infinite, then atoms could make an infinite number of worlds. Later on when we began to understand what planets and suns were, the fire of speculation burn even brighter. Most ideas have been nothing more than fantasy or science fiction. However, everything we've learned in all the different sciences can be applied to this speculation. Conception of an idea usually comes before discovery in science. Serious speculation about the nature of life and intelligence on other worlds have been around for decades.

The second method for discovering life on other worlds is to listen and watch for signs of unnatural events in the cosmos. We assume we will get a radio message because radio waves is what we use. That doesn't have to be so. Radio messages are generally expected to be the way we make first contact.

The newest way emerging for the search for life on distant worlds is through the discovery of planets by astronomers. The Hubble telescope has aided greatly in this effort. Right now scientists believe they have found a number of worlds, but all of them are giants, and not likely to have life. This may not always be the case though. I read an article awhile back that dealt with the advancement of telescopes, both optical and radio. According to the author's speculation, telescopes put on the far side of the moon, or beyond the orbit of Mars, will eventually allow us to detect Earth size planets and be able to analyze their atmospheres.

This third method means we can detect them, but maybe never have any definitive proof or communication. Knowing that some distant planet has chemicals in its atmosphere that are not natural will be encouraging, but it won't be the same as a good conversation, not matter how many years it takes.

Like I said, it doesn't matter how many science fiction movies you've seen, we will never really be prepared for that first contact. Sometime, put on some good music and recline in the old La-Z-Boy, and just try to imagine what it will mean. You might even give Guns,Germs, and Steel a read so as to fuel the fire of your mental visions.

By Jim Harris, April 1999.
   Internet links  
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • (Wayback Machine - Google cache)
  • SETI Endeavor
  • (Wayback Machine - Google cache)
  • SETI Institute Online
  • (Wayback Machine - Google cache)
  • SETI@home
  • (Wayback Machine - Google cache)
  • Sky & Telescope’s SETI Section
  • (Wayback Machine - Google cache)

  • Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers
  • (Wayback Machine - Google cache)
  • The Planetary Society SETI Page
  • (Wayback Machine - Google cache)
  • The SETI League
  • (Wayback Machine - Google cache)

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