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Rare Earth- Ward & Brownlee.

  1. matthyaouw

    matthyaouw 1,216
    Gold Member

    http://www.distant-star.com/issue12/may_2000_reviews.htm
    http://homepage.mac.com/bbaugh/iblog/C787485710/E90869299/

    I'm thinking of seeking out a copy of this book, out of little more than curiosity. I was wondering if anyone could comment on its reliability or realisticness. Is there much factual basis beind it, and is it worth a read if I'm interested in learning about the real possibility of life outside of this planet? When I say life, I mean any variety, not just little green men, UFOs etc.
    Are there any other credible books which you could reccomend that I read as well or as an alternative.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    I haven't read it, but I heard about it.

    Here's a post from a previous discussion about it.

    It made the bad pseudo science list of the Astronomical Pseudo-Science: A Skeptic's Resource List (Version 3.0; August 2003) of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

    Frazier, K. "Was the 'Rare Earth' Hypothesis Influenced by a Creationist?" in Skeptical Inquirer, Nov/Dec. 2001, p. 7. The controversial book that suggests that planets and life like ours may be extremely rare may have been influenced by a young University of Washington astronomer who is secretly a creationist.

    The article is here:

    http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2843/is_6_25/ai_79794362
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2005
  4. Nereid

    Nereid 4,014
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    It is well worth reading (whether you want to buy it, or get a copy from your local library, well, that's up to you I guess).

    The writing is good, the science relatively sound (as sound as anything on astrobiology published in peer reviewed journals), and the logic should (IMHO) get a much wider airing. In particular, the immense difficulty of doing any real science with a sample of one (our own Earth) comes through in the book, time and time again ... at each stage where the authors must make a choice re how to proceed (with the rest of their 'story'), they are careful to state why they choose to move forward with their 'rare' idea, and (by implication) leave you with a choice - how reliable a basis is a single example for generalising the way they do?

    There's another thread in PF (S&D too!) which discusses this book - here
     
  5. matthyaouw

    matthyaouw 1,216
    Gold Member

    Thanks for your replies. I think I'll check if I can find a library copy anywhere. Nereid- You mention a book by Darling. Could you tell me its title please? I may have to read that too.
     
  6. Nereid

    Nereid 4,014
    Staff Emeritus
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    Darling, David 2001 (?). "Life Everywhere, the New Science of Astrobiology" Basic Books
     
  7. matthyaouw

    matthyaouw 1,216
    Gold Member

    Thank you. I'll have a look for that one too.
     
  8. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    If Nereid says it's good, it must be. I'm between believing how the earth could be unique in the universe due to the odds against a series of the same accidents that brought about life here having happened elsewhere and the fact that the universe is so vast and the ingredients for life being common enough that life must have occured elsewhere.

    matthyaouw, let us know what you think of the book.
     
  9. Nereid

    Nereid 4,014
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    [nitpick]Rare Earth is about complex life and how the authors think is might be rare; they state pretty clearly that the case for simple life (i.e. bacteria and stuff like algae) being very common is strong.[/nitpick]
     
  10. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Nereid, you're convincing me to read the book now.

    Yes, the earth has been teaming with life for a long time, with humans, just a blink of the eye in the timeline.
     
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