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If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens ... Where Is Everybody?: Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life
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If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens ... Where Is Everybody?: Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  239 ratings  ·  31 reviews
FROM THE REVIEWS: Webb offers coherent, understandable, and sometimes humorous coverage of a diverse range of topics. He provides readers with non-trivial insights into research fields they may not have encountered previously . . . I think everyone who has ever considered the possibility that other intelligent civilizations exist elsewhere within our galaxy will enjoy Wher ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 4th 2002 by Copernicus Books (first published January 1st 2002)
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Quinton
I loved the premise of this book so much, but the execution fell a bit flat for me.

Why? I think it was just because the author takes a sort of detached and tedious elaboration of all the different possibilities so that it fills a whole book. I would have preferred something with more pop and pizazz. Give the big picture summary, then break out the key parts, wrestle with the parts and try to really engage with the arguments to highlight the strengths and weaknesses. Instead, it seemed kind of dr
...more
Paula
Very very fun. All the science-based speculations that I love about science fiction, without the misogynist plots.
David
This book discusses in the detail the decades-old "Fermi paradox" -- if the universe is so congenial to the formation and evolution of life, then where are all of these other civilization? Webb presents a list of 50 proposed "solutions" to the paradox, including: (a) societies lose interest in space exploration and colonization; (b) societies invariably destroy themselves before they venture out; (c) there is a "galactic ethic" that civilizations not disclose their existence to nascent civilizat ...more
Chris Lugo
This is one of the most interesting books I have read in some time. It is an easy read for the non-scientific types but addresses one of the most important questions I think people can consider at this moment in our cultural development. Unfortunately I think that I agree with the conclusions of the author that perhaps intelligent life in the universie is exceedingly rare.
Kristi
Couldn't make it through it, but I don't think that's the authors fault. Engaging and funny at time, just not for me, I guess.
Al Bità
This is essential reading for anyone interested in the idea of extraterrestrial civilisations (ETCs) and wanting to know what the various sciences say about them. More specifically, it deals with a particular 'problem' the author calls Fermi's Paradox, which goes something like this: there are billions of stars like our sun in the Milky Way galaxy; and there are billions of galaxies in the universe — so the odds that there are very many highly developed extraterrestrial civilisations out there, ...more
John Szucs
In the late 1940's, the great physicist Enrico Fermi posed a simple but profound question. In essence, he observed that our galaxy has hundreds of billions of stars, surely other intelligent, technological civilizations must have evolved. Some, if not most of them, would be older and more mature than our own and capable of either communicating with us, visiting us, or at least revealing some evidence of their existence. So, where are they?

Scientists and other thinkers have pondered this question
...more
Dennis Littrell
Webb, Stephen. Where Is Everybody?: Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life (2002) *****
Examining their navels?

This is the most up-to-date and thorough discussion of the Fermi Paradox that I have read. Stephen Webb examines all the popular solutions as well as some esoteric ones, giving us considerable background on each along with the benefit of his knowledge on a wide range of relevant subjects including microbiology, plate tectonics, evolution, intelligen
...more
Sonia
Very neat book for anyone interested in astronomy, physics, or paradoxes! Almost makes me wish I hadn't skipped that physics class back in high school. Having weaseled my way out of any extra classes involving numbers, however, I can report that this book manages to be informative and lightly technical in spots without going over the head of this math-illiterate Classics major. I was originally put on to this book by Canadian futurist, ethicist, and animal rights advocate George Dvorsky, who lis ...more
Richard
Look up into the sky on a cloudless night, or put your ear to a radio antenna: nothing. No trace of aliens, not even radio transmissions - doesn't that strike you as odd?

It struck physicist Enrico Fermi as very odd: if the laws of nature are universal, working in the same way all over the galaxy, and have produced the Earth, life (and us) here, then they should have produced Earths (and 'us') everywhere; yet here we are, beneath our silent sky. This has become known as the Fermi Paradox - in Fer
...more
Broodingferret
I'd heard about this book for a while and, while I'm glad to have read it and I did find it interesting, it left me a bit underwhelmed. My primary issue is with the author's lack of imagination and rather irritating tendency to dismiss ideas without explaining why he's doing so. Several of the entries are wrapped up with, essentially, "This is a very compelling resolution to Fermi's Paradox, but I'm not convinced"; if you set out to explain why proposed solutions to a conundrum do or don't work, ...more
Anthony
I think the author does a great job laying out many different types of arguments which attempt to answer the Fermi Paradox, knowing fully well that most of those arguments aren’t even refutable using the scientific methods, given our existing technology and data. The strength of this book doesn’t lie in the way the author clinically tries to agree or disagree with each hypothesis (a better word might be “speculation”, since the hypothesis is not testable), but the way in which he introduces and ...more
Gaby
In this book, Webb explores 50 different possible solutions to the famed Fermi paradox, which states that if the universe is so large and presumably plays host to thousands of intelligent species, why have we not made contact with them? This book was refreshingly based on actual scientific reasoning and not on the musings of a bomb bunker-bound, tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist. Furthermore, Webb did well to explain the pros and cons of all the solutions, and I did enjoy his own solution ...more
Francesco
Very interesting book, full of brilliant ideas across multiple fields!

Trying to answering to the Fermi paradox (on why we didn't meet extraterrestrial intelligent forms of lives yet or the Great Silence), the author shares with us brilliant ideas on the evolution of our galaxy, of our solar system, of our planet and on terrestrial life in itself.

Particularly insightful the last chapters, where Webb explains the exceptionality of the transition from mono-cellular to multi-cellular life and the p
...more
George Nuridzhanyan
Not without flaw, the structure of each argument becomes quite repetitive, but overall a great engaging book that respects all views and theories equally, displays but also acknowledges the author's biases, and leads up to a subtle conclusion, although with books on such subjects, there is literally no way to wrap up everything conclusively without being vague and dreamy in the end.

I especially liked, as a person who is not well-versed in sciences, that a lot of the technical stuff is described
...more
Jon
The most annoying things that are in this book are the explainations for simple things. It seems to be for an audience who doesn't know much about the Fermi paradox or science. In the later sections Webb felt the need to give a biology lesson. He also has to explain a lot of other simple concepts, which most people with a basic interest or education in science would already know. The best part of this book is the collection of proposed solutions to the Fermi paradox. The authors solution is some ...more
David
An excellent "science-for-poets" text, the author creates 50 mini-essays in which he proposes various explanations as to why, despite the apparent very favorable odds of intelligent civilizations being prevalent in the universe, we haven't been able to find any reliable indication of them. Webb manages to hold fast to occam's razor without ever coming across as dismissive of some of the more imaginative theories, and while the note on which the book ends is rather depressing, I as a non-scientis ...more
Carl Bromwich
I read this a few years ago and with all the current news of discoveries being made of extra-solar planets has reminded me of what a great book this is. It answers the question of the Fermi Paradox.... "If the Universe is teeming with Aliens, where is everyone" To read all the reasons why life has been able to developed on earth leaves one with a true sense of what a miracle our tiny blue planet really is, in fact everyone one of us is a miracle. I don't agree with the conclusion, but the 50 rea ...more
Claus Wøbbe
Very interesring
Brandon
Fun read to expand your thinking

Fun read to expand your thinking

No matter your level of schooling, this is a great look at our universe and the likelihood that wee are alone or not in it. There are so many theories to answer Fermi's Paradox, and this book does a great job of analyzing many, with very approachable science. I wish I had read this as a young man...so many of my sci-fi wannabe writer stories would have been enhanced by it.
Ross Johnson
To me, this is the most fascinating possible question. This book does a pretty good job of covering all the bases (that we know of) for resolutions to the Fermi Paradox. I don't necessarily agree with his conclusions or how he divvies up the "classes" of answers, but unless you've spent a lot of time thinking about this problem on your own, this book will make you think.
Jim
Feb 19, 2008 Jim rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: non, fiction
"A physicist offers 50 solutions to the problem of why we have no evidence of extraterrestrial life even though it seems like there are a lot of stars out there for them. His personal conclusion is that the circumstances for creating life like people is so rare, that we are alone. Gets mildly bogged down in the numbers and sciences, but is very interesting."
Timo Lindi
I have read finnish version of this book. As topic says, I have wondered same for years. When I encoutered Fermi's quote "Where is everybody" and story behind that, I started to dig more information about topic. Very soon, this book was suggested. Fifty solutions were fun to read. They gave me more perspective how alone we are here in our planet.
mingfrommongo
I guess I was just meant to be this lonely...
John
Very entertaining and breezy survey of various factors that may pertain to this question of where are the aliens. However, other books, like Paul Davies' The Eerie Silence and Ward and Brownlee's Rare Earth, are more satisfying because they probe more deeply into the ideas that Webb briefly touch on.
Elalma
Un po' scherzando, un po' seriamente analizza 50 possibili soluzioni a questa frase che Fermi pare pronunci� a Los Alamos, alla fine degli anni '40 . Una bella panoramica su molti aspetti della scienza degli ultimi anni. Divertente e pieno di s.... mentali che ai fisici piacciono tanto.
Booknerd Fraser
A very interesting look at the possible answers to the Fermi Paradox. The author gives a solid but (mostly) easy to follow science lesson with almost every solution. I don't agree with his personal solution, but he makes it clear that he doesn't expect everyone will.
Zack
A must read for anyone interested in life in the universe. It isn't exactly filled with scientific data. However it does present some very interesting theories as to why we haven't seen any signs of life from other planets.
Meredith Ruen
An engaging and adventurous read that takes you to the ends of the universe and introduces you to a host of otherwise boring concepts concerning math and physics.
Sean
A reasonably well-written, systematic approach to the question of the possibility of alien life in the universe.
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