Review by Elizabeth Quill
After 50 years of scanning the skies for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence, astronomers have only silence to report — an eerie silence, Davies argues.
Part history of the search, part road map for its future and (large) part mind-stretching exercise, the book provides Davies’ perspective on profound questions that have implications far beyond alien hunting. Is life inevitable? What about intelligence? How long do advanced civilizations last? What would happen if alien cultures met?
Though these questions have been asked before, Davies, a cosmologist, recaps recent thinking and describes new scientific investigations. He uses the lack of clear answers to call for a shake-up in current efforts to search for life beyond Earth. Since no one can predict the nature of other intelligence, he says, scientists from all fields should look for subtle signatures of societies rather than direct communication via radio waves or some other familiar technology.