On the Bookshelf: The Eerie Silence by Paul Davies
Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence
by Paul Davies
Anyone who has spent as much time as I have reading science fiction has probably spent at least a small amount of time considering the possibility that there is intelligent life somewhere out there in the universe. Would first contact be a scary Independence Day scenario or more benign like that of Star Trek? Even in our widest imagination can we even begin to contemplate how an alien would look, think or act?
Paul Davies, as a scientist, has thought a lot about those questions as well, pondering the eerie silence that has greeted the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) radio telescopes that have been listening to the universal static for anything that may be considered a signal. The questions are obvious; Are we doing it wrong? Is there nobody out there to listen for? Are we really alone?
The pages of The Eerie Silence contain the clear thinking that should underlay how we approach those questions (considering an empty data set) and clear thinking about how those questions can be approached from other directions and warnings about the dangers of anthropocentrism, the insidious assumption that somehow intelligent aliens would think and act as we do.