© 2020

Space, Time, and Aliens

Collected Works on Cosmos and Culture

  • Includes more than 40 papers written by a former NASA Chief Historian

  • Analyzes topics in cosmology and astronomy from an interdisciplinary lens

  • Covers all ongoing, major themes in the new field of philosophy of astronomy


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxii
  2. Part I

  3. Part II

  4. Part III

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 239-242

About this book


In this comprehensive and interdisciplinary volume, former NASA Chief Historian Steven Dick reflects on the exploration of space, astrobiology and its implications, cosmic evolution, astronomical institutions, discovering and classifying the cosmos, and the philosophy of astronomy. The unifying theme of the book is the connection between cosmos and culture, or what Carl Sagan many years ago called the “cosmic connection.”

As both an astronomer and historian of science, Dr. Dick has been both a witness to and a participant in many of the astronomical events of the last half century. This collection of papers presents his reflections over the last forty years in a way accessible to historians, philosophers, and scientists alike. From the search for alien life to ongoing space exploration efforts, readers will find this volume full of engaging topics relevant to science, society, and our collective future on planet Earth and beyond.


history of astronomy philosophy of astronomy history of space exploration history of plurality of worlds history of SETI ETL Debate history of NASA Pulkovo Observatory history of time balls Alfred Russel Wallace history of astronomical discoveries

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.AshburnUSA

About the authors

Steven J. Dick served as the NASA Chief Historian and Director of the NASA History Office from 2003 to 2009.  He was the 2014 Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology at the Library of Congress’s John W. Kluge Center. In 2013 he testified before the United States Congress on the subject of astrobiology.  From 2011 to 2012 he held the Charles A. Lindbergh Chair in Aerospace History at the National Air and Space Museum. For 25 years he worked as an astronomer and historian of science at the U. S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.  He is the author or editor of 23 books, including Discovery and Classification in Astronomy: Controversy and Consensus (Cambridge, 2013), The Impact of Discovering Life Beyond Earth (Cambridge, 2015), Astrobiology, Discovery, and Societal Impact (Cambridge, 2018, winner of the PROSE Award from the Association of American Publishers), and Classifying the Cosmos: How We Can Make Sense of the Celestial Landscape (Springer, 2019). In 2006, Dick received the LeRoy E. Doggett Prize from the American Astronomical Society for a career that has significantly influenced the field of the history of astronomy. In 2009, minor planet 6544 Stevendick was named in his honor.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Space, Time, and Aliens
  • Book Subtitle Collected Works on Cosmos and Culture
  • Authors Steven J. Dick
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Physics and Astronomy Physics and Astronomy (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-41613-3
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-41616-4
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-41614-0
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXII, 799
  • Number of Illustrations 56 b/w illustrations, 71 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Astrobiology
    History of Science
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Steven Dick’s writing is always very interesting, thoughtful, and well-researched, and he is very good at covering broad themes. … Much of this book is an interesting read, and it forms a very useful reference work … .” (Richard McKim, The Observatory, Vol. 141 (1282), June, 2021)

“Steve Dick not only makes accessible a significant portion of his oeuvre, but provides perceptive contemporary commentary on how the many questions and issues he has addressed over the years in the areas of the history of astronomy, the taxonomy of astronomical practice, the continuing search for life elsewhere in the Universe, and the question of the ubiquity of life itself, have fared, through his efforts and those of many others.” (David H. DeVorkin, Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, Vol. 23 (3), 2020)