Written on: 24/12/2003 by Harriet Klausner (18660 reviews written)
Faint Echoes, Distant Stars: The Science and Politics of Finding Life Beyond Earth
Dr. Ben Bova
Morrow, Mar 2004, $25.95, 352 pp.
Noted author, Dr. Ben Bova evaluates the age old question of whether humanity is alone in this vast universe. Whether he looks back to Copernicus and earlier or to the SETI project, Dr. Bova provides insight into the past and present scientific wars, the religious dogma, and the political benefit/cost analysis skirmishes. The author uses planet earth to make a case that life probably exists on other orbs in the universe and even in our solar system. He argues that life on earth survives hostile planetary environs that for centuries was assumed nothing could live there and bacteria brought to the moon thrives in conditions that would kill humans. Perhaps the Martian icecaps or the Jovian moons will prove to have living organisms.
FAINT ECHOES, DISTANT STARS: THE SCIENCE AND POLITICS OF FINDING LIFE BEYOND EARTH is at its best when Dr. Bova makes the inductive case that we are not alone. The nonfiction is also quite fun to read when it looks into the past to show those times that science clashed with politics/religion. When the book goes deep into the current skirmish over funding something somewhat esoteric and not easy to see the benefits, it is fascinating but loses some of the propulsion that the history and the science provides. Still this is another strong effort by Dr. Bova, who makes no pretense on which side of the debate he supports.
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