Posted on Thursday, September 19, 2013
By Kadri

Credit: The Ohio State University Radio Observatory and the North American AstroPhysical Observatory (NAAPO).

Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, edited by H. Paul Shuch
(Springer, 2011)

Finished reading on September 17, 2013

Rating 10/10

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence is probably one of the most intriguing topics in radio astronomy, or  observational astronomy altogether.

However, when one mention's the acronym SETI, the pictures it would conjure would mostly likely be from different movies depicting radio astronomers listening to something that sounds like white noise.

This book gives an in-depth overview of the history of SETI, but also talks about what kind of projects are being worked on now, and also about some of the future plans.

It was kind of amazing how this book fits so much interesting information in it. About some of the projects that were proposed with all of the details, but also some back-story for a few false-alarms.

There are contributions by many authors and from different points of view, which makes this excellent.

Already the history of the SETI projects draws you in. For example, any amateur astronomer who's had some interest in ET would probably have heard of the "Wow!" signal. Even I had, but I hadn't ever thought of looking more into it. But now after reading this book I know a lot more about it. Sure, one could just find it on Wikipedia, but it's not as thorough as in "Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence".
So you could find out what do the letters and numbers on the picture above stand for, or why was it so extraordinary and whether there's an explanation to it.

But then details of projects and famous signals are not all of it. There's also discussion of what aliens look like, and what would change in human culture after the first contact with aliens.

So in general, if you're interested in Extraterrestrial Intelligence, though not necessarily in radio-astronomy and the specific SETI projects, this book is a good encyclopedia type of book. If you manage to read it all from cover to cover, you'll be certainly able to impress anyone coming to ask you whether you've seen little green men while observing Mars or anyone trying to corner you with questions about aliens.

Here's a neat fact: Dr. Frank Drake discovered  the U-2 reconnaissance plane while working on his Project Ozma. The public found out about the existence of such planes only a month later!

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