mostraligabue
» » Perfect Planet, Clever Species: How Unique Are We?

ePub Perfect Planet, Clever Species: How Unique Are We? download

by William C. Burger

ePub Perfect Planet, Clever Species: How Unique Are We? download
Author:
William C. Burger
ISBN13:
978-1591020165
ISBN:
1591020166
Language:
Publisher:
Prometheus Books (September 1, 2002)
Category:
Subcategory:
Astronomy & Space Science
ePub file:
1251 kb
Fb2 file:
1750 kb
Other formats:
lrf mbr txt mobi
Rating:
4.9
Votes:
599

Perfect Planet, Clever Species book. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Start by marking Perfect Planet, Clever Species: How Unique Are We? as Want to Read: Want to Read savin. ant to Read.

Perfect Planet, Clever Species book.

Botanist William C. Burger's new book "Perfect Planet, Clever Species" is one of those rare exceptions: a thought-provoking synthesis of biology, geology, astronomy, history, and sociology. It is a truly interdisciplinary look at nothing less than life on earth: How it began, how it diversified, and the chances for "life" originating again anywhere at all in the universe. Further, Burger looks at the scale of earth's biological complexity, and the road that one species, humans, have taken to attain their present complex technological society

8. Science, Environmental Ge- nomics Reveals a Single-Species Ecosystem Deep Within Earth, by Dylan Chivian, et al, Vol- ume 322, October 10, 2008, pp. 275-278. cientific American, Microbe Census RevealsAir Crawling With Bacteria, by David Biello,article. 10. Natural History, As the Whale Turns, by Adam Summers, June 2004, pp. 24-25.

Burger, William C. Publication date. Cosmology & the universe, Evolution, Life Sciences - Evolution - Human, Human evolution, Science, Science/Mathematics, Life on other planets, Exobiology, Cosmology, Life Sciences - Evolution, Human origins. Books for People with Print Disabilities. Internet Archive Books. Uploaded by Tracey Gutierres on July 11, 2013.

Perfect Planet, Clever Species : How Unique Are We?

By (author) William C. Burger. We can notify you when this item is back in stock.

More by William C. Complexity: The Evolution of Earth's Biodiversity and the Future of Humanity. Flowers: How They Changed the World. Recently Viewed and Featured.

Download PDF book format. 59. 3/8 21. Personal Name: Burger, William C. Publication, Distribution, et. Amherst, . Prometheus Books, (c)2003. Choose file format of this book to download: pdf chm txt rtf doc. Download this format book. Perfect planet, clever species : how unique are we William C. Book's title: Perfect planet, clever species : how unique are we William C. Library of Congress Control Number: 2002068117. Physical Description: 345 . 8 p. of plates : ill. (chiefly co.

Got it. We value your privacy.

Ebook William C. Burger pdf, Read William C. Burger epub Best Perfect Planet, Clever Species: How Unique are We?

Ebook William C. Burger epub Best Perfect Planet, Clever Species: How Unique are We?

Another book to put on my "to read" list. This one falls into the "Rare Earth" camp in regards to the Fermi question. Perfect Planet, Clever Species: How Unique Are We?" by William C.

Another book to put on my "to read" list.

For many years the federal government funded the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), later popularized by Carl Sagan's novel Contact and the movie starring Jodie Foster. Though in actuality SETI never did make contact with signals from an alien civilization, the search continues to this day through privately funded endeavors. How likely is it that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe? This is the intriguing question that has prompted William Burger's illuminating and absorbing exploration of the unusual circumstances surrounding life on earth.Examining the critical episodes in our planet's early history and the peculiar trajectory of life on our world, Burger shows that the long odyssey of planet Earth may be utterly unique in our galaxy. For example, he describes features of the sun that are far from average. By some estimates, 95 percent of the other stars in the Milky Way galaxy are smaller, and it is unlikely that any of them could supply the energy requirements for a life-sustaining planet such as our own. Earth, as the third planet from the sun, sits within the "Goldilocks" orbit: it is in the perfect position to receive not too much heat (like Mercury and Venus) and not too little (like more distant planets of the solar system) but just the right amount to foster the development of life.Turning to the evolution of life itself, Burger points out a host of amazing accidents (for example, the extinction of dinosaurs and the proliferation of flowering plants) that make the steps along the way to Homo sapiens seem like very rare events indeed. He also calls attention to the curious fact that the early hominid brain tripled in size over the relatively short time period leading to the appearance of modern human beings. Finally, he notes aspects of humanity's cultural evolution that seem unlikely to have been duplicated anywhere else.Burger's enlightening evaluation of evolutionary and cosmic history, full of fascinating details, shows that the human achievement may be unique in our galaxy.
  • This book may provide the most balanced and readable non-technical overview in print of how life and intelligence developed on the Earth. Burger covers an amazingly wide variety of scientific issues, ranging from the probability of planetary systems around other stars to the evolution of our basic technologies. Unfortunately, Burger's balanced presentation falls apart in the last chapter when he turns to his primary purpose, which is to discredit the idea that intelligent life and technological civilizations may exist elsewhere. Suddenly we find ourselves reading opinions based on unproven assumptions, personal beliefs, and politically correct ideology. Burger introduces values into the Drake equation that are as arbitrary as those used by scientists who are optimistic about the existence of other civilizations. He tells us that finding another planet as good as ours is "close to impossible," a truly odd statement given the recent successes in finding other planetary systems. Interstellar travel is described as a "near-impossibility," though no law of physics or engineering makes it so.
    Burger argues that, since our own evolutionary path is extremely unlikely to be repeated because of unique circumstances and chance developments, intelligence is unlikely to evolve elsewhere. He fails to consider the possibility that there may be many other possible evolutionary paths in other environments, also driven by both chance and necessity, that could lead to intelligences very different from our own. Physical and cultural evolutions elsewhere do not have to duplicate ours to produce intelligence and civilization.
    Burger shows his cultural pessimism when he writes that "the present drama unfolding on planet Earth makes it seem highly likely that energy-guzzling technological societies have a short life span," clearly an unproven assumption. He repeats this conclusion on the last page when he writes that "it seems highly likely that creatures with higher cognitive intelligence...come into being from time to time, then quickly fade away." How can he possibly draw such a conclusion from one example? This is opinion, not science.
    Since Copernicus, scientists have discredited the assumption of human centrality again and again. Yet many biologists still seem to cling to anthropocentrism. The history of science suggests that, in the long run, they are riding for a fall.

  • This is an outstanding recapitulation of who we are and how we got that way written by a wise and learned man. William Burger, who is Curator Emeritus at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, begins with our sun and its place in the universe and ends with reflections on human beings and how rare we might be. Along the way he demonstrates that he is well-grounded in a variety of disciplines, including most especially evolutionary biology. I found his insights into the discoveries of science most interesting and edifying. I especially liked his clear prose and forthright statements shorn of humbug and euphemism.
    Strange to say, however, I am not in agreement with the spirit of his central thesis. While it is true that we human beings are unique in the most technical sense of the term, just as every fingerprint is unique, it is questionable whether the essence of who and what we are as intelligent beings is unique in this unimaginably vast universe. Indeed, I am amazed that Burger, who is so objective about our savage tenancies as well as our incredible ability to manipulate our environment to our perceived advantage, can be so, shall we say, myopic in his inability to see the possibilities in the wider scheme of things.
    Near the end of the book he recalls the famous Drake Equation, and as others have done, examines each of the factors and comes to the conclusion that it may very well be that we are the only intelligence species extant in the galaxy.
    I have pointed out the fallacies inherent in such an endeavor elsewhere, but let me note here that at least 90% of the matter in the universe is still a complete mystery to us. While it is technically feasible to say that intelligent life as we know it; that is, carbon-based life dependent upon liquid water, etc, may very well be rare in our galaxy, it is a mistake to suppose that any convincing argument against the existence of intelligence life itself has been made.
    There is also a peculiar fallacy in the argument (sustained throughout the book) that there is something marvelous or probabilistically rare in the unique series of events that have characterized the odyssey (as Burger calls it) of our planet's "perfect" history, leading to our rise. This argument can be seen as a sidebar to the "anthropic cosmological principle," which I like to call the "anthropic cosmological fallacy," in the sense that we are here only because of a miraculous series of events, when in fact we are here precisely because of those events. The fallacy can be seen in being dealt the following hand at poker: the nine of hearts, the five of clubs, the king spades, the eight of spades, and the trey of diamonds. This is quite an amazing hand. The odds against it being dealt are 2,598,959 to 1! (same as the odds against being dealt a royal flush in, say, diamonds). It is only our perspective that makes the one hand seem commonplace and the other miraculous.
    Burger writes, "However unlikely our odyssey, the incontrovertible fact is that our planet, our solar system, and our star are ideally configured for the development of intelligent life..." (p. 290)
    This is not only ex-post facto reasoning, it is misleading since beings living near (or even on, for all we know) a brown dwarf may make a similar observation, citing the congenial warmth of their star and the lack of "visible" radiation as part of the unique factors that make their life possible. They might even point to how "lucky" they are at being particularly good at sensing the surfaces of things, a talent that would not have developed in a "sighted" world, a talent that has allowed an intelligence of a particularly high order to evolve.
    Earlier in the book, Burger argues convincingly that it was the stresses and demands of inter-group war (a biological arms race within our species) that promoted the rapid grown of our brains. This is a fine insight. However on page 280 Burger writes that without our stabilizing moon, "a badly wobbling planet...[would] put huge stresses on terrestrial vegetation and the animals it supports." His conclusion is that without the "accident" of our precisely perfect moon, intelligent life is unlikely to have evolved. But, to recall his own reasoning, is it not possible that the "stresses" of a "wobbling planet" could lead to compensations by life forms, perhaps even serving as a factor in the growth of intelligence?
    Burger concedes that bacterial life may be common in the universe and that there may even be life under the surface of frozen worlds, as on Jupiter's moon, Europa. However he writes that "Such an environment...won't give rise to complex life-forms that are hungry for energy." He adds, as though in explanation, that "there's not a lot of energy available." (p. 277) But, it is hard to see how such an explanation explains anything. When there is a scarcity, perhaps it is the other way around: creatures then become even cleverer at finding what they need.
    I wish I had more space to talk about the rest of this excellent book and to point to the many fine observations made by Burger and to celebrate the 99% of his book which is wonderful and a delight to read. I have cited his idea that war is what has swelled our brains (see p. 211). That argument alone is worth the price of the book, but there are many others, including a devastating critique of the possibility of interstellar travel to colonize the galaxy beginning on page 272. I also liked the many sharp and candid statements that sparkle the text. Here's one to think about:
    "Killing members of our own group is murder, but killing members of other groups is the fastest way for a male to gain social prestige." (p. 215)

  • The hackneyed term "interdisciplinary science" is often bandied about in academia (mostly by clueless administrators), so it is a real pleasure when a true interdisciplinary work appears. Botanist William C. Burger's new book "Perfect Planet, Clever Species" is one of those rare exceptions: a thought-provoking synthesis of biology, geology, astronomy, history, and sociology.
    It is a truly interdisciplinary look at nothing less than life on earth: How it began, how it diversified, and the chances for "life" originating again anywhere at all in the universe. Further, Burger looks at the scale of earth's biological complexity, and the road that one species, humans, have taken to attain their present complex technological society.
    What impressed me most about the book is Burger's interest in the "backstory" of life - its astronomical context. In my experience most of my fellow biologists are unfortunately "astrophobic" and shrink from any consideration of how extraterrestrial events (such as gamma ray bursts, Jupiter, the moon, or the sun's galactic orbit) may have influenced evolution and indeed made us possible. In this regard, "Perfect Planet, Clever Species" is a useful companion volume stressing the biological side of the "Rare Earth" hypothesis of astronomers Ward and Brownlee.
    Highly recommended; the distillation of a lifetime's worth of research, reading, and thought by a renaissance scholar.