The Eerie Silence

  • by Paul Davies
  • Narrated by George K. Wilson
  • 10 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Fifty years ago, a young astronomer named Frank Drake pointed a radio telescope at nearby stars in the hope of picking up a signal from an alien civilization. Thus began one of the boldest scientific projects in history, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). But after a half century of scanning the skies, astronomers have little to report but an eerie silence---eerie because many scientists are convinced that the universe is teeming with life. The problem, argues leading physicist and astrobiologist Paul Davies, is that we've been looking in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and in the wrong way. Davies should know. For more than three decades, he has been closely involved with SETI and now chairs the SETI Post-Detection Taskgroup, charged with deciding what to do if we're confronted with evidence of alien intelligence. In this extraordinary book, he shows how SETI has lost its edge, then offers a new and exciting road map for the future.
Davies believes that our search so far has been overly anthropocentric: we tend to assume an alien species will look, think, and behave like us. He argues that we need to be far more expansive in our efforts, and in this book he completely redefines the search, challenging existing ideas of what form an alien intelligence might take, how it might try to communicate with us, and how we should respond if we ever do make contact. A provocative and mind-expanding journey, The Eerie Silence will thrill fans of science and science fiction alike.

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What the Critics Say

"Paul Davies has written a most delightful book, perhaps the most thoughtful, thorough, and comprehensive book ever published on the key question: are we alone in the universe? Davies addresses one of the most pivotal questions facing humanity, and does it with wit, style, and rigor. The Eerie Silence will satisfy the curiosity of anyone interested in big cosmic questions about intelligence in the universe." (Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics and author of Physics of the Impossible, Hyperspace, and Parallel Worlds)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Scientifically Curious? Hmmm.

I must preface this review by stating that this book is not for UFO buffs. There is no discussion of UFO sightings, or alien abductions, or Area 51. I don't think Betty and Barney Hill are ever mentioned. It just isn't that kind of book.

However, if you are fascinated by the subject of the possibility of extraterrestrial or alien life, and you are somewhat scientifically oriented, this in-depth discussion could be very intriguing to you.

Paul Davies is an English physicist, a professor, and currently the chairman of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.) This book involves much science and attempts to address the possibility of life occurring elsewhere in the universe, with topics such as what are the odds, the means of determination, ways of initiating or receiving contact, whether or not this should even be attempted, first contact, who shall be notified and how, what would post-biological life look like, and so much more. It is very technical in places and contains lots of information.

Toward the end of the book, author Davies gives his own personal opinion on whether there is or has been other life in the universe. I'd love to comment on this, to give you my reactions and response to what he believes. However, that would spoil much of the fun for those that choose to delve into this very interesting, scientific approach to a subject that has fascinated me much of my childhood and all of my adult life.

Narration is well done. Highly recommended for scientifically curious listeners.
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- Kathy "Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy."

Equal parts history, science, informed speculation

What made the experience of listening to The Eerie Silence the most enjoyable?

This book is an excellent listen. At the outset, the author does an excellent job of setting the table, summarizing everything we know to date about the possibility of extraterrestrial life, from science and from theory. Specific programs (notably SETI), physical laws, experimental observations, astronomical and cosmological phenomena, are all covered. From there, the author consider various possibilities for what and where ET might be, and how it might be discovered. His discussion proceeds according to a chain of inductive reasoning, taking the listener through one fact pattern after another, and explaining the conclusions about alien life that would appear to flow from each. His analysis is well organized, beginning with conclusions we might draw from the limited evidence we understand today, then moving on to consider evidence that we do not have today, but that science may be able establish in the future. Finally, he does a great job of explaining the limitations imposed by science and physics, and where the science runs out, he applies theory, math, and imagination, to take the reader through an intelligent and well-reasoned summary of where we may end up. The book leaves with listener with much to consider. At the same time, for a book that focuses on a subject as inherently mysterious and unknowable as ET, the Eerie Silence leaves the listener remarkably satisfied. I would recommend it to anyone who wonders why - in a universe compromised of trillions of stars - we feel so alone.


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- Michael J Canning

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-30-2010
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio