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The Copernicus Complex: Our Cosmic…

The Copernicus Complex: Our Cosmic Significance in a Universe of Planets…

by Caleb Scharf

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I considered just four stars, but this is an engaging book that covers so much in a very readable depth. From the astronomy of the namesake to a greater cosmology to the origins of life in the universe, Scharf tells a wonderful story of heliocentrism, galaxies, exoplanets, anthropic principle, abiogenesis and the possibilities of life elsewhere.

We are both significant and insignificant.

I need to read Scharf's first book. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
What are we with regard to the universe? Is Earth a rarity? Is it unique? What about life? How common is it? And what of life like us, life that can ponder our place in the universe? In this book, Caleb Scharf offers no answers. What he does instead is summarize what we currently know, or think we know, that may have bearing on such questions, and what more we need to find out to even estimate probabilities. He does venture a few opinions, of course, most of which I found quite well explained and seemingly sensible. This is not a dry, academic tome, or a simple history of scientific discovery. It's written with infectious enthusiasm for the subject and is quite enjoyable. ( )
  DLMorrese | Oct 14, 2016 |
ვართ თუ არა განსაკუთრებულები და გამორჩეულები კოსმოსური მასშტაბით - ერთ-ერთი ყველაზე მნიშვნელოვანი კითხვაა რისი გაგებაც ადამიანს სურს. ამიტომ თუ ეგზისტენციალურ თემებზე ფიქრობთ, ალბათ ამ წიგნის სათაური მიიპყრობს თქვენ ყურადღებას. კოპერნიკის პრინციპი და ანთროპული პრინციპი ორი მთავარი ხედვაა რომელიც ჩვენი სამყაროს გაგების პერსპექტივაში გვხვდება. დეცენტრალიზება და განსაკუთრებული როლი. ორივე პრინციპი სხვადასხვა ფაქტებზე ამახვილებს ყურდღებას და სხვადასხვა პერსპექტივას ირჩევს, იმის საჩვენებლად თუ რამდენად მნიშვნელოვანნი ან უმნიშვნელო ვართ. ქეილაბ შარფის აზრით არც ერთი ხედავა არაა სრულიად მართალი, რადგან ჩვენ განსაკუთრებულნი ვართ მაგრამ არა უნიკალურნი, მნიშვნელოვანნი მაგრამ არა ერთადერთნი (დიდად სავარაუდოდ).
ჩვენი მზის სისტემა ნამდვილად არ არის ტიპიური, მაგრამ არც ერთადერთი და განუმეორებელია. ჩვენი ბიოქიმია კი ყველაზე ტიპიური ელემენტებიგან შედგება.

საინტერესო წიგნია, საინტერესო ფაქტებით და ხედვით, თუმცა ბევრი საკითხი ღია და პასუხგაუცემელი რჩება, გათვითცნობიერებული​ მკითხველი მიხვდება მიზეზს "ჯერ კიდევ ბევრი რამ უცნობია ჩვენი ადგილის შესახებ სამყაროში" ქეილაბს კი ის დარჩენია რომ ამ ინფორმაციის, დაშვებების და ვარაუდების ზღვაში გააკეთოს ფრთხილი და სწორი ანალიზი.

საინტერესო იქნებოდა ავტორს რომ განევრცო ზოგიერთი თემა, მაგალითად ინტელექტთან დაკავშირებით, დევიდ დოიჩის აზრით ჩვენ ვართ არსებობის ცენტრი Hub of existence (ერთ-ერთი) რადგან ჩვენი ტვინი რომელიც იმდენად განსხვავებულია ფიზიკურად რამდენადაც ეს საერთოდ შესაძლებელია იყოს მაგალითად კვაზარზე, გამოსახავს მსგავს მათემატიკურ და მიზეზობრივ არსს, (ცოდნის შეძენა და კვაზარის ფიზიკური ახსნა) რომელიც დროში იზრდება. საინტერესო ხედვაა ინტელექტის და საინტერესო არგუმენტი იქნებოდა ჩვენი მნიშვნელობის ჭრილში.

( )
  Misha.Kaulashvili | Aug 22, 2016 |
My second book by Scharf, as brilliant and engaging as his "Extrasolar Planets..." Less of a textbook; fewer difficult formula (of 100, I could only solve one.) Lots of info here, like lunar reflectivity, very deceptive; it seems bright to us, but the Moon reflects only about 10% of th light that hits it, "about the same as a lump of coal" (71). Of the Sun, he says: "Thus ends the ten-billion year spree of this one star that we decided to take an interest in" (66).
Scharf's book questions the "rarity" of the habitable conditions of Earth.
Scharf notes that astronomical time is not human time, and he writes of "a few hundred million years" as if brief--and after a chapter, you agree. "The cosmos ticks to the beat of a different clock" (48)--why, humans arose over only a couple hundred million years. Back 4 billion years, our favorite star produced 30% less energy, but there's evidence the world held water even then. Not clear how.
He calls the Newtonian clockwork solar system "The Grand Delusion," title of his second chapter. We can tell from the myriad planetary systems that have been identified since the first in 1992, and the 2nd a in '95.
There is a stochastic, random or "chaotic" (mathematically) element in our solar system; and, until the invention of computers, the n-body problem was, as Newton concluded, insoluble. Now hundreds of millions of variables in millions of computations can approximate, say, our solar system in 500 million years. Doesn't look that good. Possible Mercury (most elliptical except Pluto) into Venus, possible Venus into Earth, etc. Besides the revealing cosmology, Scharf writes well: note the gerund in the first quotation, the verb in the second here: "Our planet ..[includes] a later 'veneer' of asteroid impacts. In that explosive peppering...."(61); and 2) "even the length of time our entire species has staggered around on the surface of the Earth..."(105) ( )
  AlanWPowers | Oct 17, 2014 |
The Copernican Principle can be a tricky thing: It says that we (Earth, Earth life, the solar system) are not special (are mediocre), but recent discoveries of wildly different exoplanetary systems might lead you to say that we *are* special. But, on further thought, you might say that the differences among the exosystems themselves means that we share the property of *uniqueness* with all the other systems and thus are mediocre after all! That's perhaps not too accurate as a synopsis of Scharf's book, which contains a set of astrobiological reflections sometimes ending with inconclusive statements (such as "Modern Bayesian inferences about abiogenesis lead us back to square one" -- p 183) but finally closing with suggestions for a "cosmochaotic" principle.
  fpagan | Oct 14, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374129215, Hardcover)

A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Science Book of Fall 2014

In the sixteenth century, Nicolaus Copernicus dared to go against the establishment by proposing that Earth rotates around the Sun. Having demoted Earth from its unique position in the cosmos to one of mediocrity, Copernicus set in motion a revolution in scientific thought. This perspective has influenced our thinking for centuries. However, recent evidence challenges the Copernican Principle, hinting that we do in fact live in a special place, at a special time, as the product of a chain of unlikely events. But can we be significant if the Sun is still just one of a billion trillion stars in the observable universe? And what if our universe is just one of a multitude of others—a single slice of an infinity of parallel realities?

 In The Copernicus Complex, the renowned astrophysicist Caleb Scharf takes us on a scientific adventure, from tiny microbes within the Earth to distant exoplanets, probability theory, and beyond, arguing that there is a solution to this contradiction, a third way of viewing our place in the cosmos, if we weigh the evidence properly. As Scharf explains, we do occupy an unusual time in a 14-billion-year-old universe, in a somewhat unusual type of solar system surrounded by an ocean of unimaginable planetary diversity: hot Jupiters with orbits of less than a day, planet-size rocks spinning around dead stars, and a wealth of alien super-Earths. Yet life here is built from the most common chemistry in the universe, and we are a snapshot taken from billions of years of biological evolution. Bringing us to the cutting edge of scientific discovery, Scharf shows how the answers to fundamental questions of existence will come from embracing the peculiarity of our circumstance without denying the Copernican vision.

 With characteristic verve, Scharf uses the latest scientific findings to reconsider where we stand in the balance between cosmic significance and mediocrity, order and chaos. Presenting a compelling and bold view of our true status, The Copernicus Complex proposes a way forward in the ultimate quest: determining life’s abundance, not just across this universe but across all realities.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:12 -0400)

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