1. New Book Published on the Societal Impact of Astrobiology

    From the cover of <i>Astrobiology, Discovery, and Societal Impact</i> by Steven J. Dick, the second Baruch S. Blumberg/Library of Congress Chair. Image credit: None
    From the cover of Astrobiology, Discovery, and Societal Impact by Steven J. Dick, the second Baruch S. Blumberg/Library of Congress Chair.

    What will happen if we discover life beyond Earth, either microbial or intelligent? Steven Dick, the second Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology, has just published a book on this subject based on his research at the Library of Congress.

    From the author:
    Astrobiology, Discovery, and Societal Impact is a study that proposes systematic approaches to the subject making use of history, the nature of discovery, and analogy. It argues for the need to transcend anthropocentrism in our concepts of life and intelligence, culture and civilization, technology and communication, and describes how this might be done. And it lays out various scenarios of how the discovery of life beyond Earth will impact society and perhaps transform our thinking. The latter includes our cosmological, theological, and cultural worldviews, as well as our views on ethics and our interactions with alien life forms. In keeping with the Blumberg Chair’s purpose to examine the humanistic aspects of astrobiology, the book makes use of fields as diverse as history, cognitive science, philosophy of mind, epistemology, evolutionary psychology, ethics, the philosophy of the natural and social sciences, law, and science fiction. It concludes with a Chapter detailing how we should prepare for what would be perhaps the greatest discovery in the history of science.

    The book is published in the Cambridge Astrobiology series.

    Astrobiology, Discovery, and Societal Impact follows an edited volume, The Impact of Discovering Life Beyond Earth (Cambridge, 2015), which included 22 authors and is based on a Symposium at the Library of Congress. In contrast to that volume, the new volume is Dick’s own personal take on the subject.

    Image source: Cambridge University Press. Image credit: None
    Image source: Cambridge University Press.

    Source: [Steven J. Dick / Cambridge University Press]