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The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for DiscoveryGuillermo Gonzalez, Jay Richards
Regnery Publishing, Inc., (Hardcover Edition), 464 pages, 2004
"The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arenaï¿½Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light." (Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994)
Is Earth merely an insignificant speck in a vast and meaningless universe, as Carl Sagan suggested? On the contrary, in The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery, astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez and philosopher Jay W. Richards present a staggering array of evidence that exposes the hollowness of this modern dogma. They demonstrate that our planet is exquisitely fit not only to support life, but also gives us the best view of the universe, as if Earth-and the universe itself-were designed both for life and for scientific discovery. In fact, Earth is a lot more significant than virtually anyone has realized.
In this provocative book, readers are taken on a scientific odyssey from a history of tectonic plates, the wonders of water, and solar eclipses, to our location in the Milky Way, the laws that govern the universe, and the beginning of cosmic time.
You will discover:
The Privileged Planet's astounding findings should lead any individual to reevaluate entrenched assumptions about the universe-and even to reconsider our very purpose on what so many have dismissed as nothing more than an accident of cosmic evolution.
In a book of magnificent sweep and daring, Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards drive home the argument that the old clichï¿½ of no place like home is eerily true of Earth. Not only that, but if the scientific method were to emerge anywhere, Earth is about as suitable as you can get.
"Not only have Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards written a book with a remarkable thesis, they have constructed their argument on an abundance of evidence and with a cautiousness of statement that make their volume even more remarkable. In my opinion, The Privileged Planet deserves very careful attention."
"In a book of magnificent sweep and daring Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards drive home the arguments that the old clichï¿½ of no place like home is eerily true of Earth. Not only that, but if the scientific method was to emerge anywhere, the Earth is about as suitable as you can get. Gonzalez and Richards have flung down the gauntlet. Let the debate begin; it is a question that involves us all."
"Impressively researched and lucidly written, The Privileged Planet will surely rattle if not finally dislodge a pet assumption held by many interpreters of modern science: the so-called Copernican Principle (which isn't actually very Copernican!). But Gonzalez and Richards' argument, though controversial, is so carefully and moderately presented that any reasonable critique of it must itself address the astonishing evidence which has for so long somehow escaped our notice. I therefore expect this book to renew-and to raise to a new level-the whole scientific and philosophic debate about earth's cosmic significance. It is a high class piece of work that deserves the widest possible audience."
"Gonzalez and Richards have written a book that is at once inspiring, illuminating, and beautiful. Although the 20th century insights in quantum physics should long ago have dispelled the simplistic idea that nature is nothing more than matter in motion, The Privileged Planet suggests that scientific discovery is embedded in the very structure of the cosmos. With uncommonly engaging prose, they offer a virtual tour of the marvels of modern science and the discoveries science has brought to light, from geology to cosmology. The authors also suggest intriguing answers to ubiquitous "cosmic questions": Why have we been able to discover so much about the world around us in such a short time? Is extraterrestrial life common, or is it quite rare? What is Earth's place in the cosmos? Does the universe exist for a purpose? Only those interested in these questions-but who isn't?-should read this book."
"In this fascinating and highly original book, Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards advance a persuasive argument, and marshal a wealth of diverse scientific evidence to justify that argument. In the process, they effectively challenge several popular assumptions, not only about the nature and history of science, but also about the nature and origin of the cosmos. The Privileged Planet will be impossible to ignore. It is likely to change the way we view both the scientific enterprise and the world around us. I recommend it highly."
"This new book is an excellent and timely contribution to the broadening and increasingly important discussion of origins."
"Privileged Planet is simply a beautifully written piece of work: so lucid and compelling in its presentation that even the most lay of laypersons will fly through its pages, barely able to put the book down. And when is the last time that hard science has delivered such an optimistic, even joyful message? For Gonzalez and Richards have made the incontrovertible case that this earth of ours is not just some flyspeck of inconsequentiality in a meaningless universe, but holds a rare, even honored place, and that we, its inhabitants, are especially privileged to be here."
About the Authors
Dr. Gonzalez has extensive experience in observing and analyzing data from ground-based observatories, including work at McDonald Observatory, Apache Point Observatory and Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory. He has also published over sixty articles in refereed astronomy and astrophysical journals including Astronomy and Astrophysics, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Astrophysical Journal and Solar Physics. His current research interest in astrobiology focuses on the "Galactic Habitable Zone" and captured the October 2001 cover story of Scientific American.
Another area of his research is focused on analyzing and interpreting ground-based photometric and spectroscopic observations of low and intermediate mass stars in relation to current theories concerning the late stages of stellar evolution and the formation and evolution of planetary systems.
Table of Contents
Section 1. Our Local Environment
Section 2. The Broader Universe
Section 3. Implications
Conclusion: Reading the Book of Nature
Appendix A: The Revised Drake Equation
Appendix B: What about Panspermia
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