“Civilized Life in the Universe. Scientists on Intelligent Extraterrestrials” by George Basalla (2006, Oxford University Press)
Rating: 8 points out of 10
I’d highly recommend this book to any alien-enthusiast, just so they’d lose faith in UFO-s, alien-abductions and perhaps even crop-circles. By the latter I mean connecting crop-circles with some extraterrestrials sending messages to the poor humans inhabiting this planet.
The book is good. Especially, if it’s a first introduction to the topic, it makes a reader more sceptical about all the other nonsense one might find.
It naturally starts out with life on the Moon, goes on to Mars and then further to other star-systems. As far as the Moon and Mars goes – those are an old and popular topic, and one might read about it just about anywhere, where it goes about history of planetary astronomy and selenography.
However, when it continues on to 20th century, SETI etc, it gets more interesting, although at least to me it left the impression as if Percival Lowell, Carl Sagan and Frank Drake would have been the only scientists interested in the topic, as Basalla focuses on them the most. Others do get mentioned, but that’s about it.
There were some interesting tidbits I hadn’t read about before, like Michael Papagiannis’ sugesstion that extraterrestrials were inhabiting the asteroid belt – why not, really? and Shklovskii’s attempt to explain the orbits of Phobos and Deimos by concidering them artificial satellites, possibly libraries or museums. As long as scientists couldn’t explain the behaviour of the moons of Mars better, it was a good thought. Just imagine how many books one could fit inside Phobos for example! It’s mean radius is about 11 kilometres, which is about twice the radius of my home-town, so if it even had just one long row of books across – well, there’d be a place I’d lke to go for a walk.