Are we alone in the universe? If not, where is everybody? An engaging exploration of one of the most important unsolved problems in science.

Everything we know about how planets form and how life arises suggests that human civilization on Earth should not be unique. We ought to see abundant evidence of extraterrestrial activity—but we don't. Where is everybody? In this volume in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series, science and technology writer Wade Roush examines one of the great unsolved problems in science: is there life, intelligent or otherwise, on other planets?

This paradox (they're bound to be out there; but where are they?), first formulated by the famed physicist Enrico Fermi, has fueled decades of debate, speculation, and, lately, some actual science. Roush lays out the problem in its historical and modern-day context and summarizes the latest thinking among astronomers and astrobiologists. He describes the long history of speculation about aliens (we've been debating the idea for thousands of years); the emergence of SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) as a scientific discipline in the 1960s, and scientists' use of radio and optical techniques to scan for signals; and developments in astrobiology (the study of how life might arise in non-Earth like environments) and exoplanet research (the discovery of planets outside our solar system). Finally, he discusses possible solutions to the Fermi Paradox and suggests way to refocus SETI work that might increase the chances of resolving the paradox—and finding extraterrestrials.

The MIT Press Essential Knowledge Series | Paperback
$15.95 T | £12.99 ISBN: 9780262538435 240 pp. | 5 in x 7 in | April 2020


Twelve Tomorrows 2018 Cover - MIT Press.jpg

Twelve Tomorrows

Twelve visions of the future—by turns hilarious, frightening, and relevant—from new and established voices in science fiction.

In this book, new and established voices in science fiction come together to offer original stories of the future. Ken Liu writes about a virtual currency that hijacks our empathy; Elizabeth Bear shows us a smart home tricked into kidnapping its owner; Clifford V. Johnson presents, in a graphic novella, the story of a computer scientist seeing a new side of the AIs she has invented; and J. M. Ledgard describes a 28,000-year-old AI who meditates on the nature of loneliness. We encounter metal-melting viruses, vegetable-based heart transplants, search-and-rescue drones, and semi-automated sailing ships. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes frightening, and always relevant, Twelve Tomorrows offers compelling visions of potential futures.

Originally launched in 2011 by MIT Technology Review, the Twelve Tomorrows series explores the future implications of emerging technologies through the lens of fiction. Featuring a diverse collection of authors, characters, and stories rooted in contemporary real-world science, each volume in the series offers conceivable and inclusive stories of the future, celebrating and continuing the genre of “hard” science fiction pioneered by authors such as Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert Heinlein. Twelve Tomorrows is the first volume of the series to be published in partnership with the MIT Press.

Contributors: Elizabeth Bear, SL Huang, Clifford V. Johnson, J. M. Ledgard, Liu Cixin, Ken Liu, Paul McAuley, Nnedi Okorafor, Malka Older, Sarah Pinsker, Alastair Reynolds

The MIT Press | Paperback
$19.95 T | £15.99 ISBN: 9780262535427 276 pp. | 7 in x 10 in 20 color illus., 2 b&w illus. | May 2018