Ark Research: Lonely Planets

One of the greatest pleasures of writing is in the research. After completing Hawking’s A Brief History of the Universe, I have delved into David Grinspoon’s Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life. Grinspoon’s writing is accessible and colloquial – maybe even too much so – and offers a balanced perspective on what might be out there. Grinspoon007 From DNA’s perspective, all Earth’s creatures are stationary or mobile reproduction units, even those weird brainy, bipedal ones that make fire, print books, and build rockets. All this is in service of the master molecules. We are DNA’s spaceships preparing for launch and trying not to get ourselves killed. (118) DNAWe have been taught that science is largely value-free except for a sense of integrity to the truth. We are supposed to dispassionately interrogate nature and accept the answers, whether we like them or not. yet, in the past, natural philosophers often mixed their spirituality, ethics and values with their science. (256) Galileo-GalileiWhile we explore the planets, we must vigilantly guard against “forward contamination” – the accidental spreading of Earth germs to other planets – and “back contamination” – the accidental spreading of Earth with alien germs. (258)blob_406x250