Who Else is Out There? Intelligent Life in the Universe

David Helfand – Columbia University

Is There Intelligent Life In The Universe?

Twenty years ago, our solar system was the only one we knew existed — eight planets circling a rather ordinary star. Today we know there are billions of solar systems in our Galaxy alone, and the planetary zoo is full of denizens too weird to have imagined. Twenty years ago, life on Earth is the only kind we knew existed; that’s still true today.

Yet a few of the new planets we have discovered appear to be similar in size and temperature to Earth. Do they harbor life? How can we tell? What is the likelihood that we are not alone? Professor Helfand will describe how our knowledge of other worlds has expanded so rapidly and how we can calculate the odds of finding intelligence beyond Earth.


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