Book review: The Eeerie Silence by Paul Davies
The full title of the book is The Eerie Silence: Are We Alone In The Universe? The fiftieth anniversary of SETI has recently passed and Davies provides a clear and well-written evaluation of where we stand now. Unfortunately, and despite the author’s optimism, the answer must be no further on than when we started. If anything, the evidence gathered over the last 50 years makes it less likely that there are many technological civilisations out there. In fact, we could well be the only one. The gap between non-living matter and living things has widened considerably since the optimism engendered by the Miller-Urey experiments (although Davies makes a good case for looking for second-start life forms right here on earth). Even should that gulf be somehow bridged, there’s still the Needham question (which Davies does not seem to have heard of): why of all the civilisations on earth did only the European one conceive and execute a scientific society? Scientists, being scientists, tend to think they are inevitable – I am less sure.