I just finished Paul Murdin’s 2013 book, Are We Being Watched? The subtitle gives it away as a science book, not conspiracy theory: The Search for Life in the Cosmos.
An astronomer pens a book that amasses planetary science, geology, chemistry, history of science, and significantly, biology. Dr Murdin is an excellent writer, and except for a few small factual burps (like Jupiter’s moon Callisto being the size of the moon–it’s not) this is a very informative book. It succeeds for being an intelligent and readable work without dumbing it down. Though a reader’s science background will make it very digestible.
On the plus side, the author takes the reader through many sciences in exploring the possibility for life off Earth. His chapter summarizing the search for life on Mars is about the best treatment I’ve read of a subject I’m not sure I ever understood very well. Especially the question about the Viking landers: what the heck did they find in 1976?
Count me as a skeptic on the likelihood of finding intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. I’m a proud member of the Rare Earth club. Aliens are not watching us. I feel pretty solid on that. But I enjoyed this book because of a calm, reasoned, and thorough examination of the multiple scientific disciplines that modern astronomy brings together to address the question.
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