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Solving Fermi's Paradox


Part of Cambridge Astrobiology

  • Date Published: May 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107163652

£ 120.00

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About the Authors
  • The search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI) has for sixty years attempted to solve Fermi's paradox: if intelligent life is relatively common in the universe, where is everybody? Examining SETI through this lens, this volume summarises current thinking on the prevalence of intelligent life in the universe, and discusses sixty-six distinct solutions to the so-called paradox. It describes the methodology of SETI, and how many disciplines feed into the debate, from physics and biology, to philosophy and anthropology. The presented solutions are organised into three key groups: rare-Earth solutions, suggesting planetary habitability, life and intelligence are uncommon; catastrophist solutions, arguing civilisations do not survive long enough to make contact; and non-empirical solutions, those that take theoretical approaches, such as that our methodology is flawed. This comprehensive introduction to SETI concludes by looking at the future of the field and speculating on humanity's potential fate.

    • Lists solutions as well as mathematical formulations for interpreting them where appropriate
    • Assimilates sixty years of research for those looking for a concise introduction
    • Demonstrates how several distinct disciplines feed into the paradox, making it accessible to a wide audience
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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107163652
    • length: 426 pages
    • dimensions: 252 x 178 x 24 mm
    • weight: 1kg
    • contains: 72 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Introduction:
    1. Introducing the paradox
    2. Fact A – the great silence
    3. Classifying scenarios and solutions to the paradox
    Part II. Rare Earth Solutions:
    4. Habitable worlds are rare
    5. Life is rare
    6. Intelligence is rare
    Part III. Catastrophist Solutions:
    7. Doomsday arguments
    8. Death by impact
    9. Death by terrestrial disaster
    10. Death by star
    11. Death on a galactic scale?
    12. Death by unsustainable growth
    13. Death by self-induced environmental change
    14. Self-destruction at the nanoscale
    15. Artificial intelligence and the singularity
    16. War
    17. Societal collapse
    Part IV. Uncommunicative Solutions:
    18. Intelligent life is new
    19. Exploration is imperfect
    20. Probe exploration is dangerous
    21. The aliens are quiet
    22. They live too far away
    23. The zoo/interdict hypothesis
    24. The simulation hypothesis
    25. They are already here
    26. They were here long ago
    Part V. Conclusions:
    27. Solving Fermi's paradox
    Appendix A. A database of solutions to Fermi's paradox

  • Author

    Duncan H. Forgan, University of St Andrews, Scotland
    Duncan H. Forgan is Associate Lecturer at the Centre for Exoplanet Science at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. He is a founding member of the UK Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) research network and leads UK research efforts into the search. His work includes simulations of civilisation evolution, developing observables of intelligence and policy for post-detection scenarios.

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