For anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky and wondered, “Are we alone?” Sarah Scoles examines the science behind the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and its pioneer, Jill Tarter, the inspiration for the main character in Carl Sagan’s Contact.
Jill Tarter is a pioneer, an innovator, an adventurer, and a controversial force. At a time when women weren’t encouraged to do much outside the home, Tarter ventured as far out as she could―into the three-Kelvin cold of deep space. And she hasn’t stopped investigating a subject that takes and takes without giving much back.
Today, her computer’s screensaver is just the text “SO…ARE WE ALONE?” This question keeps her up at night. In some ways, this is the question that keep us all up at night. We have all spent dark hours wondering about our place in it all, pondering our “aloneness,” both terrestrial and cosmic. Tarter’s life and her work are not just a quest to understand life in the universe: they are a quest to understand our lives within the universe. No one has told that story, her story, until now.
It all began with gazing into the night sky. All those stars were just distant suns―were any of them someone else’s sun? Diving into the science, philosophy, and politics of SETI―searching for extraterrestrial intelligence―Sarah Scoles reveals the fascinating figure at the center of the final frontier of scientific investigation.