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Cosmos and Culture

March 29th, 2010

Cosmos & Culture – Cultural Evolution in a Cosmic Context, edited by Steven J. Dick and Mark L. Lupisella; NASA History Series (NASA SP-2009-4802); Washington, D.C.; CASI Price: $25.00. GPO Price: $61.00; 2009.

Note: Other commercial vendors such as Amazon.com are also expected to sell this book. Also, a PDF version of this book can be found at: http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4802.pdf

There is an avalanche of data coming in regarding exo-planets and resolving the “are we alone” question. Better to think: Just how crowded is it out there?

The editors of this stimulating and scholarly book put forward an integrated look at concepts from philosophical, anthropological, and astrobiological disciplines, exploring the interdisciplinary questions of cosmic evolution.

This book is well-timed given our rapidly evolving ability to probe our surrounding universe for evidence of life beyond Earth.

Serving as editors, NASA engineer and scientist, Mark Lupisella, along with Seven Dick, former Chief Historian for NASA, have pulled together a notable gallery of authors to underscore the role that the cosmos should play in our culture.

This volume covers such topics as “History, Culture, and Human Destiny”; “A Framework for Speculations on Cosmic Culture”; “The Intelligent Universe”; and “Communicating the Evolutionary Epic in Interstellar Messages”.

As one contributor to the book points out, that “while we wait for data about extraterrestrial intelligence with which to anchor ourselves, we muse about our place in the cosmos.”

The reader will find this book far more than a read about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI for short. In many ways, this volume is a time capsule of thinking about a much broader context of how we look at ourselves and our own destiny in the cosmic scale of things to come.

One writer in the book concludes that it seems reasonable to consider that humankind is passing through a “bottleneck” – that is, put away the doomsday scenarios and rejoice in the prospect that the galaxy hosts long-lived civilizations and we’re headed to join the party!

For more information on this publication, and others available from NASA, go to:
http://history.nasa.gov/series95.html

By Leonard David

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