Are we alone in the universe? This is surely one of the biggest questions of human existence, yet it remains frustratingly unanswered. In this provocative book, one of the world’s leading scientists explains why the search for intelligent life beyond Earth should be expanded, and how it can be done.
Fifty years ago, a young astronomer named Frank Drake first pointed a radio telescope at nearby stars in the hope of picking up a signal from an alien civilization. Thus began one of the boldest scientific projects in history, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).
After a half-century of scanning the skies, however, astronomers have little to report but an eerie silenceeerie because many scientists are convinced that the universe is teeming with life. Could it be, wonders physicist and astrobiologist Paul Davies, that we’ve been looking in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and in the wrong way?
Davies has been closely involved with SETI for three decades, and chairs the SETI Post-Detection Taskgroup, charged with deciding what to do if we’re suddenly confronted with evidence of alien intelligence. He believes the search so far has fallen into an anthropocentric trapassuming that an alien species will look, think, and behave much like us. In this mind-expanding book he refocuses the search, challenging existing ideas of what form an alien intelligence might take, how it might try to communicate with us, and how we should respond if it does.
The Eerie Silence provides a penetrating assessment of the evidence, past and present, and an exciting new road map for the future.
…Mr. Davies is an interesting thinker about nearly every aspect of our search for other intelligent life in the universe. The Eerie Silence may reprise material from his earlier books and lean on the work of futuristic thinkers like Freeman Dyson and Raymond Kurzweil. It gets moderately woo-woo at times, too. But Mr. Davies is smart enough to coax you rather slowly out onto the mental gangplank with him, from where the view becomes genially starry and mind-bending.