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In your basket. Large Print. Title Author Advanced Search. Paperback, illustrated edition. Preview — Lonely Planets by David Grinspoon. It's been nearly four decades since Carl Sagan first addressed the general public from a scientist's perspective, confronting the possibility of extraterrestrial life. David Grinspoon, a planetary scientist who has helped to shape modern planetary exploration, brings the subject to a new generation of readers with his reflections on the most recent developments in astrobio It's been nearly four decades since Carl Sagan first addressed the general public from a scientist's perspective, confronting the possibility of extraterrestrial life.

David Grinspoon, a planetary scientist who has helped to shape modern planetary exploration, brings the subject to a new generation of readers with his reflections on the most recent developments in astrobiology, including NASA's search for life on Mars. In Lonely Planets , he investigates the big questions: How widespread are life and intelligence in the cosmos?

Is life on Earth an accident or in some sense the "purpose" of this universe? And how can we, working from the Earth-centric definition of "life," even begin to think about the varieties of life-forms on other planets? Using the topic of extraterrestrial life as a mirror with which to view human beliefs, evolution, history, and aspirations, Grinspoon provides an authoritative scientific narrative of cosmic evolution, along with provocative ruminations on how we fit into the story of the universe. An accessible, lively blend of science, history, philosophy, and personal narrative, Lonely Planets reveals how the search for extraterrestrial life unites our spiritual and scientific quests for connection with the cosmos.

Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published November 2nd by Ecco first published More Details Original Title. Other Editions 8. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

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To ask other readers questions about Lonely Planets , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jan 05, Stafford Davis rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. I first encountered Dr. David Grinspoon when I was reading a biography on Carl Sagan.


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David is the son of Dr. Lester Grinspoon; a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School that has done original work in cannabis research and mental health, and was a close friend of Sagan. The next encounter I had with David was at a lecture he gave at DU for the Denver Astronomical Society to promote this book and his research. Observing his natural exuberance and love for these topics make him a highly I first encountered Dr. Observing his natural exuberance and love for these topics make him a highly likable character.

Grinspoon gives highly charged and invigorating descriptions of all things astronomical — plus the dichotomy of his possession of degrees in philosophy and planetary science with a doctorate in the latter, and his physical appearance of multiple earrings and a frizzy, thinning afro atop a tall body, make for an interesting lecturing experience. Some samples: On Earth being in the habitable zone: The surface of a planet can be a good place for elements and simple molecules to get together, try new variations on their structural themes, and make ever more complex molecules. Life is a breakfast cereal, a board game, a very long sentence, a bitch and then you die.

On attending a conference in his adopted home turf of Boulder, CO: It was a classic Boulder crowd: well-heeled hippies with carefully matted dreadlocks falling over designer tie-dyes, bespectacled academics toting tattered notebooks, and smatterings of spandex, bike helmets, laptops, dogs, beards and peasant dresses not necessarily on the same person but not necessarily not , the occasional whiff of patchouli oil or pot but absolutely no tobacco smoking, under pain of death … Boulder is a bubble town nestled against the mountains thirty miles northwest of Denver.

Learning has never been so fun as Lonely Planets! Grinspoon, David. What planetologist David Grinspoon is working on in this book is similar to the consilience that biologist Edward O. Wilson talked about in his book of that name and what C. Snow dreamed about in his discussions of the two academic cultures half a century ago.

But what Grinspoon is reconciling is the informed and creative speculation of the human mind with the rigor Grinspoon, David.

But what Grinspoon is reconciling is the informed and creative speculation of the human mind with the rigorous requirements of scientific orthodoxy. He uses the almost forgotten term "natural philosophy" as a means to the end of reconciling the dreamer in his soul with the scientist in his head.


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Grinspoon represents a new breed of scientist not afraid to speculate aloud and in public about matters that cannot be proven, to joke about them, to relate to them personally and passionately, and to say that it shouldn't be career-threatening for a scientist to venture into the realm of the unknown. He realizes how complex and wondrous is all that we know and especially all that we don't know, and that in a world of uncertainty one can still make decisions and speculate while recognizing that there is a place where science ends and natural philosophy begins.

In this regard is a nice quote from Bertrand Russell: "When one admits that nothing is certain one must, I think, also add that some things are more nearly certain than others. He seeks to separate not just pseudoscience from science, but the likely from the unlikely, and to allow the unproven to remain the unproven but without prejudice. He admits his biases and he gives his reasons for them.

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At the same time he allows that he could be wrong and hopes that in some cases he is. This book is about why we think about alien life which is in some sense just a metaphor for the unknown and how our emphasis and focus have changed over time, and what we know and what we don't know, and what the prospects are for finding answers.

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Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life - PDF Free Download

Grinspoon is clearly on the side of the angels in spirit, but with the Skeptical Inquirer in cognition. Grinspoon knows that the new science, like the new music, always sounds discordant to the establishment. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, etc. Let the establishment cope with the new sciences of complexity, astrobiology, chaos, and let them grapple with the inadequate definitions of "life" and "consciousness.

Grinspoon wants to go beyond that. He wants us to become one of the "immortals"--civilizations so advanced and in tune with the cosmos that they will never die until the universe grows cold, and maybe not even then. Here are some examples of Grinspoon's thought and expression in this wonderfully expressive and exciting book: "[O:]ther planets must be inhabited because natural selection would fashion living beings to take advantage of local conditions We may as well try and catch the wind as pin life down with a tidy definition.

Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life

It is an idea--typical of what Grinspoon is getting at--that needs contemplation. Don't be fooled! Grinspoon is an expert in several disciplines including evolutionary biology, astronomy and cosmology. Although he makes no such claim I can tell by some of what he writes that he is also an expert on world religions. See especially pages It is refreshing to read a scientist who understands religion since few people do, including the so-called religious.

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Grinspoon rejects monotheism. He doesn't say why or for what, but I suspect he sees God as beyond any of the attributes that we can dream up for God. Perhaps Grinspoon is enamored of the God of the Vedas about which nothing can be said, a God without an attribute that we could name.

Certainly he rejects "scientism" and any personal god.