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Aliens  By  cover art

Aliens

By: Jim Al-Khalili
Narrated by: Nicholas Guy Smith,Bruce Mann,Katharine Lee McEwan,Paul Michael,Kimberly Farr
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Publisher's Summary

In these lively and fascinating essays, scientists from around the world weigh in on the latest advances in the search for intelligent life in the universe and discuss just what that might look like. Since 2000, science has seen a surge in data and interest on several fronts related to ET (extraterrestrials); AI (artificial intelligence); and SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence). The debate has intensified over whether life exists outside our solar system, what that life would look like, and whether we'll ever make contact.

Included in this audiobook are essays from a broad spectrum of the scientific community: cosmologists, astrophysicists, NASA planetary scientists, and geneticists, to name just a few, discussing the latest research and theories relating to alien life. Some of the topics include: If life exists somewhere in space, what are the odds that it evolves into something we would recognize as intelligent? What will space travel look like in the future, and will it all be done by cyborg technology? How long until we are ruled by robot overlords? (This is actually a serious consideration.) Are we simply a simulation in the mind of some supreme being acting out a virtual reality game?

For those who have ever wondered, Is there anybody out there? here are the latest theories and evidence that move us closer to answering that question.

©2017 Jim Al-Khalili (P)2017 Random House Audio

What listeners say about Aliens

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    5 out of 5 stars

What science thinks of extraterrestrials

Don't be deceived by the title. This book is the science of detecting life in other planets. It does touch on some science fiction and our fantastic imaginations, but very quickly quells any proof of "aliens" as depicted by movies, books, and conspiracy theories.

Saying all the above, this is still one of the most fascinating collections of scientific thinking on what might be out there and possibilities of life in other planets.

It takes an Al-Khalili to bring those true scientists to talk about this subject as most have shunned away from the subject and for good reason. We cannot identify something that we can't define, and believe it or not, life is defined differently by many in science. In fact if there is one thing in common, it is that life cannot be defined.

Still, this book better than many others gives the perspective of many scientists, and gives a good foundation where the reader can make his own decision. Like consciousness, unfortunately there aren't many ways that can decisively prove that life exists beyond earth, and those nay sayers will always have the upper hand.

I would like to think we are progressive and open minded to understand that we may not be so special, and other life exists. Or that life is beyond our narrow interpretation of it, and this book brings hope.

Excellent collection of scientific thoughts on the subject. Highly recommended to anyone interested in science and too fixated on everyday chores.

8 people found this helpful

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It’s really really one sided...

The entire book came off as already having their minds made up, which to be completely fair is a very real and clear representation of how the current scientific outlook is on this subject anyway, so I guess maybe my expectations were unreasonable?

These are the type of people, so highly educated that it makes you scratch your head when they start to try to explain sightings away. “It was Venus!” When the person describes a light in the sky making right angle turns, appearing in front of clouds, you know things a planet couldn’t possibly do. “Oh then it was swamp gas...”

They do not take seriously for a single second, not one moment, the possibility that anyone has ever experienced an abduction, or any other close encounter for that matter.

Here’s the entire gist of this book, and modern science’s view on extraterrestrials. They’ll finally admit that in all likelihood there’s life out there, even intelligent life, but because of our current understanding of the “laws” of physics, that we have a complete grasp on and couldn’t possibly be wrong or missing anything, ([/s] even though we know for a fact that we are missing quite a bit, as our laws break down at certain points), but because of our current understanding even if life is out there, there’s no way they have made it to us because we are too far away. Because you know, 100 years ago we weren’t all riding horses and dying of strep throat.... oh wait. Maybe there’s still some stuff for us to figure out? Eh, nah. I’m sure we definitively know the entirety of space travel, we’ve been to the moon after all, 50 years ago.

It’s just a real shame. Science is about being open to the possibility of anything, but requiring proof to substantiate anything. At the same time many of our beliefs are completely predicated on theories that are only mostly verifiable. There should ABSOLUTELY NEVER be a time, where ANY claim is ever ridiculed or scoffed at solely because it sounds “out there” or “crazy.” EVER. (Ok except maybe flat earth “theory,” and only because it’s fundamentally flawed and easily proven wrong by anyone with half a brain)

Each scientist that does this with this subject or any other should be fired and shunned from their field. They’re literally holding science back with this attitude. It’s a travesty and should be a crime against humanity. There IS evidence and much of it is better than half of the evidence we have for many scientific theories that these same people accept to be our most accurate understanding of how things work in the universe.

Just cannot shake my head hard enough.

7 people found this helpful

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Attention to Detail

I was impressed with the depth of this book. I expected it to be a brief overview of a wide range of topics pertaining to space aliens. And it was indeed an introduction to understanding what we know and don't know about aliens, how we search for them, what we're looking for and so on. But I was nicely impressed by the detail this book has.

4 people found this helpful

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Great.

Best thing I've listened to on audible 👍you wont be dissapointed if you are into SPACE STUFF

4 people found this helpful

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Uneven

I was excited to learn the latest and greatest astrobiology from this collection, but disappointed because many of the contributions were about science fiction, and I found them uninteresting. Also I felt several of the readers were very inappropriate for the material. There were a few good contributions reviewing current understanding of the origins of life, and the extra-terrestrial environments that are most likely to exist.

2 people found this helpful

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Very Interesting; Poorly Fact-Checked

If you could sum up Aliens in three words, what would they be?

Intriguing, worrying, and frustrating. The first two are both meant in a good way. For an explanation of the last, see below.

What did you like best about this story?

The realism w/ regard to the likelihood of alien civilizations.

What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The ability to consume the book while driving? For something like this, audiobook format is probably objectively worse.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No.

Any additional comments?

A significant portion of Chapter 14 (Chapter 15 in the audible file) is devoted to arguing that eukaryotes/eukaryote-equivalents are likely quite rare because endosymbiosis has only occurred once (Mitochondria). After five minutes of building on that argument (during which I was getting angrier and angrier) the author of that chapter admits that it has actually occurred twice (the second time being Chloroplasts), which completely undermines the prior five minutes *and is still wrong.* Endosymbiosis of cyanobacteria, creating chloroplasts, has happened at least twice that we know of, and it may well have occurred more times than that.

I guess I'm just frustrated they wasted so much time and space on a crappy argument for the lack of complex life on other planets, and that they oversold it so badly.

2 people found this helpful

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If we were the aliens, could we find ourselves?

When we invented radio and television, we used brute force, 50,000 watt transmitters, That only lasted seventy years or so. Now, we broadcast into cable systems that don't re-radiate into space. Our cellphones only reach about a mile before the transmissions enter another network of non-radiating cables. We wonder where are all the aliens? Why can't we hear their radio and TV transmissions? They are most likely doing what we are doing... making their transmissions more efficient... and more quiet. This is an interesting book, but out of date. Arecibo was a working facility when it was written. Now, Arecibo is collapsed rubble in an overgrown, Puerto Rican valley. Like NASA, American Government Funded Science quit working 30 years ago. We better reboot and retool, or the next aliens will find us, and they will be from an unfriendly country on this Earth.

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a good collection on alien subject matter

I was expecting much more from this collection which left me somewhat let down hence the three stars instead of four. The material covered is informative and engaging. The short by Davies was nowhere nearly as good as his full length books but it was a nice little read. I was really annoyed by the author that dogged Prometheus because I loved the film and found it very entertaining. There wasn't any new ideas that I picked up from this book that I hadn't picked up in other books I've already read. If you are not that well informed on the subject matter then this book may be right for you but if you already have an intermediate level of competency on the subject then there will be nothing new here for you.

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The best description and explanations I have read

I enjoyed it and learned so much about a subject I am interested in. All the various Authors who contributed gave a up to date and explanation of the field they covered. I found it fascinating and educational. I love to read books by science explainers even though it is sometimes above my technical level.

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boring

book is awful couldn't even stand to listen after chapter 3. if your religious you will most likely enjoy this book.