The Impact of Discovering Life beyond Earth

The Impact of Discovering Life beyond Earth

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Cambridge University Press, 10/26/2015
EAN 9781107109988, ISBN10: 1107109981

Hardcover, 366 pages, 22.8 x 15.2 x 2.7 cm
Language: English

The search for life in the Universe, once the domain of science fiction, is now a robust research program with a well-defined roadmap, from studying the extremes of life on Earth to exploring the possible niches for life in the Solar System and discovering thousands of planets far beyond it. In addition to constituting a major scientific endeavor, astrobiology is one of the most popular topics in astronomy, and is of growing interest to a broad community of thinkers from across the academic spectrum. In this volume, distinguished philosophers, theologians, anthropologists, historians and scientists discuss the big questions about how the discovery of extraterrestrial life, whether intelligent or microbial, would impact society. Their remarkable and often surprising findings challenge our foundational concepts of what the discovery of alien life may hold for humankind. Written in easily accessible language, this thought-provoking collection engages a wide audience of readers from all backgrounds.

astrobiology and society Steven J. Dick
Part I. Motivations and Approaches. How Do We Frame the Problems of Discovery and Impact?
1. Current approaches to finding life beyond earth, and what happens if we do Seth Shostak
2. The philosophy of astrobiology
the Copernican and Darwinian presuppositions Iris Fry
3. History, discovery, analogy
three approaches to the impact of discovering life beyond earth Steven J. Dick
4. Silent impact
why the discovery of extraterrestrial life should be silent Clément Vidal
Part II. Transcending Anthropocentrism. How Do We Move beyond our Own Preconceptions of Life, Intelligence and Culture?
5. The landscape of life Dirk Schulze-Makuch
6. The landscape of intelligence Lori Marino
7. Universal biology
assessing universality from a single example Carlos Mariscal
8. Equating culture, civilization, and moral development in imagining extraterrestrial intelligence
anthropocentric assumptions? John Traphagan
9. Communicating with the other
infinity, geometry, and universal math and science Douglas Vakoch
Part III. Philosophical, Theological, and Moral Impact. How Do We Comprehend the Cultural Challenges Raised by Discovery?
10. Life, intelligence and the pursuit of value in cosmic evolution Mark Lupisella
11. 'Klaatu barada nikto' – or, do they really think like us? Michael Ruse
12. Alien minds Susan Schneider
13. The moral subject of astrobiology
guideposts for exploring our ethical and political responsibilities towards extraterrestrial life Elspeth Wilson and Carol Cleland
14. Astrobiology and theology Robin Lovin
15. Would you baptize an extraterrestrial? Guy Consolmagno, SJ
Part IV. Practical Considerations
How Should Society Prepare for Discovery – and Non-Discovery?
16. Is there anything new about astrobiology and society? Jane Maienschein
17. Evaluating preparedness for the discovery of extraterrestrial life
considering potential risks, impacts and plans Margaret Race
18. Searching for extraterrestrial intelligence
preparing for an expected paradigm break Michael A. G. Michaud
19. SETI in non-western perspective John Traphagan and Julian W. Traphagan
20. The allure of alien life
public and media framings of extraterrestrial life Linda Billings
21. Internalizing null extraterrestrial 'signals'
an astrobiological app for a technological society Eric Chaisson