JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 4
(Featuring foundation works in the search for extraterrestrial life: Morrison/Coconni, Schwartz/Townes, Dyson, and others.)
In thinking about the “mysterious” optical displays in Texas it brought to mind some of the early publications that we have here on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. I have no doubt that there is abundant life out there, somewhere, in the far-and-gone, but I think it too remote for Earthlings to make visual contact with these folks. It is disappointing that out of all reported sightings there is nothing really decent to say about any of them. And there’s a lot of eyes that have supposedly seen these things over the years—since 1947 I make a rough calculation that there has been a sighting of a UFO (oh please forgive me) every 10 seconds. It sure sounds as though if we were talking about making visual Contact in our own neighborhood that we might have stuck ourselves with one of the needles in the haystack—I think that there are abundant needles in many haystacks out there, but I think too that for all intents and purposes that they’re all pretty much invisible.
All I’m saying is the abundant life in the universe isn’t coming here, though there is no doubt that something is going on, somewhere. The wonderful Paul Butler has found 220+ planets now in an almost-infinitely narrow search spectrum (“around nearby stars”). It would seem that even in our own Milky Way of 400 billion stars that the chances for large number of planets is plausible,, and given the incredible range of life that we find on the Earth that some of these intra-galaxy planets would stand a good chance of supporting life as well.
Some of our early materials on Extraterrestrial Life:
Morrison, Philip and Guiseppe Coconni. Searching for Interstellar Communication. The weekly issue of Nature magazine, 1960. Original printed wrappers. $950 This is the first modern SETI article though without the great impact of the following:
Schwartz, N.R.and Charles Townes, Interstellar and Interplanetary Communication by Optical Masers. Offset sheets, stapled. 1961. Fine. 11pp. $1500.
Referred to as "the paper that started it all", this great classic is the first true scientific effort in the long line of SETI efforts to follow.(See here for a reprint of the article as it appeared in Nature.) Originally appearing in published form in the 15 April 1961 issue of "Nature", this is an offset, stapled copy sent to the editor of "Science News" in Washington DC (with the annotation "Mr. Katcher" in a secretarial hand at top, David Katcher being the editor-in-chief). Both Schwartz and Townes were at the IDA in DC at the time of publication, Townes being the Director of Research; later in 1961 Townes would become Provost and Prof of physics at MIT. In addition to the Nobel PRize in physics, Townes also was awarded the prestigious Templeton Prize (in the understanding of religion and science). RARE preprinted publication.
Shklovski, I.S. and Sagan, Carl. Intelligent Life in the Universe. Cloth, in a fine dustjacket. Lovely copy. $275 .(This is a translation, extension, and revision of I.S.Shklovskii's 'Universe, Life, Mind', published by Holden-Day Inc.,1966.) This is the first scientific book wholly devoted to the concept of extraterrestrial life.
Dyson, Freeman J. 1979. Time without end: Physics and biology in an open universe. Reviews of Modern Physics 51 (3): 447-460. Offered in the original wrappers. This is surprisingly uncommon to our experience. $175.
For a nice chronology of SETI see http://www.setileague.org/general/history.htm offered by the SETI League.