Useful References for Life in the Universe
- I.S. Shklovskii and Carl Sagan, Intelligent Life in the Universe,
Holaenday, NY, 1966.
This is the book that brought widespread attention to the debate on extraterrestrial
- M.J. Crowe, The Extraterrestrial Life Debate: 1750-1900, Cambridge
Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1982.
History of the thoughts on ETI over a somewhat odd time interval.
- Edward Regis Jr., Extraterrestrials: Science and Alien Intelligence,
This is a book of essays written by evolutionary biologists, physicists, computer
scientists, geologists and philosophers on the possibility of the existence
of other intelligent beings in the universe. This is probably the single best
book on the topic I have uncovered. There are hundreds of useful references.
- Thomas B. H. Kuiper and Glen David Brin., Extraterrestrial Civilization,
AAPT (American Association of Physics Teachers), 1989.
This is a set of essays written from a physical science point of view about
the existence or nonexistence of extraterrestrial intelligent species. Several
dozen references are provided in the opening article, covering many sides
of the issue. Also included are technical articles on space travel and search
strategies, as well as a good discussion on "The Great Silence", i.e., the
absence of any evidence (UFOs notwithstanding) of extraterrestrial species.
- Carl Sagan, ed., Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence,
MIT press, 1973.
Proceedings of a conference on ETI. This has a number of interesting articles,
but, alas, no references. G.G. Simpson makes an interesting cameo appearance
in Appendix B where he defends his thesis (see below for reference) that the
existence of intelligent beings elsewhere in the universe is unlikely.
- Joseph F. Baugher, On Civilized Stars, Prentice-Hall, 1985.
A general book on the subject.
- Steven Dole, Habitable Planets for Man, Blaisdell, NY, 1964.
A classic survey on the planetary conditions needed for life to develop.
- P.C.W. Davies, The Accidental Universe, Cambridge University Press,
This is a technical book laying out the main arguments for the anthropic principle,
which states that the physical constants which define the present universe
have "special values", i.e., those necessary to support the existence of observers
- Scientific American, October, 1994.
This is an entire issue devoted to the question of extraterrestrial intelligence.
A number of authors from many branches of science contributed to the issue.
I recommend this issue as a good place to start place to start reading.
- Gregg. Easterbrook, Are We Alone, in Atlantic Monthly, August, 1988,
A lay introduction to the search for extraterrestrial civilizations.
- Frank Tipler, A brief History of the Extraterrestrial Intelligence Concept,
Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society 22, 133-145 (1981).
This is a useful reference on the history of human thinking on ETI.
- Frank Tipler, Extraterrestrial Intelligent Beings do not Exist, Quarterly
Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society 21, 267-281 (1980); Q. J.
R. Astron. Soc. 22, 279-292 (1981).
A pessimist's point of view written by a physicist. Tipler argues that if
technical intelligent civilizations arose, then at least one of them would
explore (and colonize) the galaxy in a timescale short compared to the age
of the galaxy. He argues that the absence of alien artifacts in this solar
system is proof that no such civilizations have arisen. An intriguing part
of this proposal is his assertion that an advanced civilization would employ
self-replicating "von Neumann" robots as an efficient strategy for spreading
throughout the galaxy, because the number of search vehicles would grow exponentially
while requiring only a small initial investment.
- Frank Tipler, Extraterrestrial Intelligent Beings do not Exist, Physics
Today, April 1981, p. 9.
Tipler repeats his argument here to an audience of physicists. This could
- Letters column, The Readers Respond to Tipler, Physics Today, March,
You knew this had to happen. Tipler's article generated a vocal response and
many quite readable letters are printed here. Unfortunately (at least in my
opinion), many of the respondents show an unwarranted pessimism in extrapolating
- George G. Simpson, The Non-Prevalence of Humanoids, Science 143,
769-775 (1964); Chapters 12 and 13 in This View of Life, Harcourt, NY, 1964.
A famous evolutionary biologist argues that the evolutionary pathway that
led to the development of intelligent humanoids is random, not directed, and
thus it is unlikely that intelligent races have evolved elsewhere in the universe.
- A.E. Slater and R. Bieri, Humanoids on Other Planets, American Scientist
52, 425-458 (1964).
Similar argument to that made by G.G. Simpson about the low probability of
other beings like us evolving elsewhere.
- B.J. Carr and M.J. Rees, The Anthropic Principle and the Structure of
the Physical World, Nature 278, 605-612 (1979).
Technical article exploring how the presence of observers in the universe
(i.e., us) constrains the values of the physical constants in such a way as
to allow the existence of such observers. Not for the faint of heart.
- G. Gale, The Anthropic Principle, in Scientific American, Septemer,
A popularized account of the anthropic principle.
- A. Linde, Particle Physics and Inflationary Cosmology, in Physics
Today, September, 1981, p.61-68.
Review of the inflationary model for the origin of the universe. The inflationary
theory removes the need for many "special initial conditions" in the way the
universe came to be the way it is.
SETI and related topics
These references are concerned almost solely with the technical
problem of communicating with extraterrestrial beings. Many of these
were taken from the article by
H. Paul Shuch.
Billingham, John, Project Cyclops. Moffett Field, CA: NASA CR 114445, 1971.
Bova, Ben and Byron Preiss, editors, First Contact. New York, New American
Library Books, 1990.
Bracewell, Ronald N. The Galactic Club. New York: W. W. Norton, 1976.
Drake, Frank and Dava Sobel, Is Anyone Out There? New York: Dell
Gamov, George, The Creation of the Universe, Revised Edition. New York:
Viking Press, 1961.
Holmes, David C. The Search for Life on Other Worlds. New York: Bandam
Jesperson, James and Jane Fitz-Randolph, Looking at the Invisible
Universe. New York: Atheneum, 1990.
Kraus, John, Radio Astronomy, 2nd edition. Powell, OH: Cygnus-Quasar
Kraus, John, Big Ear Two. Powell, OH: Cygnus-Quasar Books, 1995.
Morrison, Philip, John Billingham and John Wolfe, editors, The Search for
Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Washington DC, NASA SP-419, 1977.
Swift, David, SETI Pioneers. Tucson AZ: University of Arizona Press, 1990.
Adler, Jerry, "Searching for a Real E.T." Newsweek, January 31, 1983, 64.
Berman, Louis, "Eavesdropping on Other Worlds." QST, June 1993, 47-48.
Bowyer, Stuart, et. al. "The Berkeley Parasitic SETI Program." Icarus 53,
Drentea, Cornell, "Radio Astronomy and the Search for Extraterrestrial
Intelligence." Ham Radio, March 1985, 10-35.
Lichtman, Jeffery M. "Radio Astronomy and Other Civilizations."
Satellite Times, January/February 1995, 72-73.
Machol, Robert E. "An Ear to the Universe." IEEE Spectrum, March 1976,
Mechanic, Michael, "SETI's Big Galactic Gamble." Metro, December 22-28,
Moncrief, Frank J. "Searching for Life in the Microwave 'Water Hole'."
Microwave Systems News, March 1978, 19-26.
Oliver, Bernard M. "The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence."
Engineering and Science, January 1975, 9-11 + 30-32.
Sagan, Carl and Frank Drake, "The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence."
Scientific American, May 1975, 80-89.
SETIQuest (quarterly). Helmers Publishing, Inc., 174 Concord Street,
Peterborough NH 03459.
SETI News (quarterly). SETI Institute, 2035 Landings Drive,
Mountain View CA 94043.