The Impact of Discovering Life beyond Earth
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The Impact of Discovering Life beyond Earth

"Are we alone in the cosmos? If yes, we can never be sure. If no, we might well have an answer within the decade. The 22 authors of these fascinating and informative essays say no, we are not alone, despite the fact that so far not a shred of evidence has been found for the existence of life elsewhere in the universe. But just in case they are right, we need to start thinking about the possibility that we are not alone, and here is a...

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Discovery and Classification in Astronomy: Controversy and Consensus

Astronomical discovery involves more than detecting something previously unseen. The reclassification of Pluto as a dwarf planet in 2006, and the controversy it generated, shows that discovery is a complex and ongoing process - one comprising various stages of research, interpretation, and understanding. Ranging from Galileo's observation of Jupiter's satellites, Saturn's rings, and star clusters, to Herschel's nebulae and the modern...

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Cosmos & Culture: Cultural Evolution in a Cosmic Context

Cosmic evolution, the idea that the universe and its constituent parts are constantly evolving, has become widely accepted only in the last 50 years. It is no coincidence that this acceptance parallels the span of the Space Age. Although cosmic evolution was first recognized in the physical universe early in the 20th century, with hints even earlier, the relationships among planets, stars, and galaxies, and the evolution of the unive...