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The Eerie Silence: Are we alone in the universe?

To coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of SETI - the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence – Prof Paul Davies discusses one of the most intriguing questions in science: are we alone in the universe?


To coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of SETI - the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence - Paul Davies' new book treats one of the most intriguing questions in science: are we alone in the universe? Already a best-selling author, physicist and Chair of the SETI Post-Detection Task Group, Paul Davies takes a penetrating look at the aims and assumptions of the SETI enterprise.

Frank Drake, the young American astronomer who first initiated the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, has said that SETI is really a search for ourselves-who we are and what our place might be in the grand cosmic scheme of things. Yet, with one tantalizing exception, SETI has produced only negative results. After millions of hours spent eavesdropping on the cosmos, astronomers have detected only the eerie sound of silence.

What does this mean? Are we in fact alone in the vastness of the universe or is ET out there, but not sending any messages our way? Is SETI a waste of time and money? Or should we press ahead with new and more sensitive antennas? And if a signal were to be received, what then? How would we - or should we - respond?

In this event, Paul Davies proposes a re-launch of SETI, using a much wider range of scientific tools than radio telescopes which search for narrow band signals. He argues that we should be concentrating on all physical and astronomical anomalies as potential 'signatures of intelligence', citing the search for a 'shadow biosphere' - microbial life on Earth that uses alternative biochemistry. Scientists around the world are responding to his argument and beginning to discuss how the SETI programme could be improved after fifty years of silence.


Speaker(s):

Professor Paul Davies | talks | www

 

Date and Time:

16 March 2010 at 7:00 pm

Duration:

1 hour 30 minutes

 

Venue:

The Royal Institution
21 Albemarle Street
London
W1S 4BS
020 7409 2992
http://www.rigb.org/

More at The Royal Institution...

 

Tickets:

Tickets cost £8 standard, £6 concessions, £4 Ri Members.

Available from:

For more information visit www.rigb.org or call the Events Team on 020 7409 2992 9.00am-5.00pm Monday to Friday

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