Astrobiologia: bibliografia online sobre o debate de vida extraterrestre

quinta-feira, junho 23, 2016

Life beyond our Planet?

Online Bibliography Extraterrestrial Life Debate

The Online Bibliography Extraterrestrial Life Debate was made possible through generous support of the Theological Faculty of the University of Bern. It comprises more than 1.000 titles and will be updated if need be. The categories provided are currently only provisionary. Also, the display system only allows one category per item. Suggestions for additions or changes in categorization are welcomed by


Dr. Andreas Losch and his associates should be warmly congratulated for their efforts in putting together this wonderful bibliography, which as of March 2016 contains more than one thousand references. It deserves to be recognized as a major contribution to the study of an important area that can be described as the history and philosophy of astrobiology or of the extraterrestrial life debate. 

Sometimes people are surprised to learn that the debate on the existence and nature of extraterrestrials did not begin in the twentieth century; in fact, it has been going on from antiquity to the present, and in most periods at a robust level. Around 1970, I came to this realization and decided to devote some years to studying this development. The challenges I faced were daunting; perhaps the most serious was that no bibliography comparable to this wonderful contribution to scholarship existed. It took months for me to compile a far smaller bibliography: a list of over one hundred and forty volumes published before 1917 that that were part of this debate (see pp. 646–57 of my Extraterrestrial Life Debate, 1750-1900). Compiling such a list took weeks of work, whereas with the availability of this bibliography it would have taken a few hours. Locating commentaries or historical studies of these books or their authors was another challenge, whereas with this new electronically searchable list of thousands of items the challenge would be far less.

It turns out that in the same period two other scholars, Steven J. Dick and Karl S. Guthke, began also to devote their scholarly efforts to the study of a historical development that occurred over more than twenty-five centuries. An extensive listing of the research contributions each of us made is available from this list. Of course, a number of scholars had earlier written about aspects of the debate. Now, however, as this bibliography clearly demonstrates, the study of the history of this debate is a flourishing area of learning. Moreover, there are now courses taught on this subject, conferences devoted to research on it, and careers centered on it.

One of the ironies that I encountered was that when my efforts reached fruition in the publication in 1988 by Cambridge University Press of a nearly 700 page volume surveying the period from 1750 to 1900, the publisher agreed to my including my list of 120 books, but could not allow that this already oversized book would include a bibliography of the secondary sources on which it was also based. References to these sources were of course in the footnotes. In this new list, both are included as well as references to hundreds of later publications.

One particular further feature of this new bibliography is that now that it is established, other publications that belong on the list but do not yet appear can be sent to the managers of this list, further increasing the ease and efficiency of persons wishing to know about this exciting area.

Finally, as someone who has read many of the publications referenced on this list, I can assure interested persons that many engaging, accurate, and life-expanding documents are listed here.

University of Notre Dame

Site: Online Bibliography Extraterrestrial Life Debate