E-Book-Exclusive Extras: ONE: "Astrobiology on the Space Station: A Brief Commentary"; TWO: "The Tides of Titan: A Short Fiction"; PLUS: "Isaac was Right: N Equals One," a paper derived from Ben Bova's book The Living Universe
In this fascinating and cutting-edge work, Dr. Ben Bova explores one of the most thrilling and elemental questions humanity has ever posed: Are we alone From Copernicus to the advent of SETI and beyond, Bova takes his readers on a tour of the scientific and political battles fought in the pursuit of knowledge and speculates on what the future may hold.
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May 15, 2005
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Excerpt from Faint Echoes, Distant Stars by Ben Bova
Are We Alone
It goes against nature in a large field to
grow only one shaft of wheat, and in an
infinite universe to have only one living
--Metrodorus of Chios Circa 400 B.C.
What is the history of life
Are we alone in the universe
What is the future of life
Is life a normal part of the universe,or is our Earth the only world that harbors living creatures
Children ask, "Where did I com from " Stargazers wonder if there is life on any of the fiery specks that dot the night sky. Philosophers ponder the meaning of life and seek to understand our place in the greater universe that surrounds us.
These questions haunt our consciousness today, as they have for countless millennia. Human beings have always wondered about how life began and whether life exists beyond th Earth. The quest for life elsewhere in the universe is far older than written history.
The Aliens Among Us
Since the beginning of human existence our ancestors have populated the world with powerful supernatural creatures. The earliest writings we know of deal with gods and goddesses who are obviously much more powerful than mere mortals and who inhabit realms far beyond this mundane world in which you and I live.
Try to see the world as our prehistoric Ice Age ancestors did. Living in small tribes of hunters and gatherers, following the game herds across the land, they faced a world of terrifying dangers. Powerful lions and leopards stalked the night. When they sought shelter in caves, often as not a ferocious cave bear would mangle them with its sharp claws and powerful, crushing teeth.Hunger was a constant threat; wild fires, bewildering attacks of disease, a broken bone, even childbirth was dangerous.