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The Eerie Silence

Are we alone in the Universe and what would you say to ET?

Professor Paul Davies will deliver a public lecture to coincide with the 50th anniversary of SETI ( Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) on 17 March.

On April 8, 1960, a young American astronomer, Frank Drake, turned a radio telescope toward the star Tau Ceti and listened for several hours to see if he could detect any artificial radio signals. With this modest start began a worldwide project of potentially momentous significance. Known as SETI - Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence - it is an amalgam of science, technology, adventure, curiosity and a bold vision of humanity's destiny. Drake 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 that mean? Are we in fact alone in the vastness of the universe? Is ET out there, but not sending any messages our way? Might we be surrounded by messages we simply don't recognize? Is SETI a waste of time and money, or should we press ahead with new and more sensitive antennas? Or look somewhere else? And if a signal were to be received, what then? How would we - or even should we - respond?

Paul Davies is a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist, author and broadcaster. He is also college professor at Arizona State University, the largest public university campus in the USA. He has the distinctive assignment to establish a new centre on foundational questions in science, to encompass cosmology, life, astrobiology and philosophy - a think tank for addressing complex issues in these areas.

He has achieved an international reputation for his ability to explain the significance of advanced scientific ideas in simple language. He is the author of some twenty five books including The Mind of God, The Last Three Minutes and How to Build a Time Machine. Among other awards he has won the Templeton Prize, The Royal Society's Michael Faraday Prize for science communication and a Glaxo Science Writers' Fellowship. In April 1999 the asteroid 1992 OG was officially named (6870) Pauldavies in his honour.


Professor Paul Davies | talks | www


Date and Time:

17 March 2010 at 5:30 pm


2 hours 30 minutes



Geological Society
Burlington House

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Organised by:

Royal Astronomical Society
See other talks organised by Royal Astronomical Society...



Free but tickets must be reserved in advance

Available from:

Alys Hilbourne
Geological Society
Tel: +44 (0)20 7432 0981

Additional Information:

Tube: Green Park
Doors open at 5.30 pm for tea and coffee, the lecture runs from 6 pm to 7 pm and a reception follows, ending at 8 pm.

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