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Shostak to speak on the Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe

Seth Shostak
Dr. Seth Shostak, SETI
                                                       

The School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Minnesota will host a public lecture with SETI Astronomer Seth Shostak. The lecture entitled “The Search for Intelligent Life in the Cosmos” will take place at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, January 31st at the Tate Laboratory of Physics, Room 150.

he lecture is free and open to the general public. Seating will be on a first-come first-serve basis.

The lecture will address the question, of whether or not new scientific instruments and probes will be able to be successful in finding extraterrestrial life, whether or not it is likely to be intelligent and the possible implications of such a discovery.

Seth Shostak is Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute, and has been an observer for Project Phoenix as well as an active participant in various international forums for SETI research. He is a frequent presenter of the Institute’s work in the media, through lectures, and via the Institute’s weekly radio show, Are We Alone?, for which he’s the host. Each Sunday night, Shostak interviews guests who are on the bleeding edge of science discovery and technological advance. The show gives callers the opportunity to ask questions of the world’s foremost experts in astrobiology and space exploration.

Abstract: Could there be intelligent life elsewhere in the universe? Hundreds of billions of planets may be scattered throughout the vast starfields of the Milky Way. How many of these other worlds sport life able to send messages into space, or perhaps to travel between the stars? In the next two decades, a radically new instrument, the Allen Telescope Array, will sensitively scrutinize the vicinities of hundreds of thousands, and eventually millions of stars, looking for a faint radio signal that would betray intelligent beings elsewhere. In addition researchers are using conventional optical telescopes to search for pulsed laser light from other worlds, a sure sign of another society. Will these efforts lead to success? Can Nature be expected to readily cook up interesting biology on other planets? Even if alien life is common, is any of it intelligent? And finally suppose SETI finds a faint signal from a distant civilization: what then? World peace? Rioting in the streets? Would we be privy to the secrets of the ages? Or would discovery of cosmic company be the ultimate in ego deflation, proving that we are but small fry in heaven’s vast ocean?

Shostak will also give a Physics and Astronomy Colloquium on Wednesday, January 30 at 4:00 p.m. More information can be found at http://www.physics.umn.edu/calendar/spa.all/nextweek/calendar.html?item=2407

More information at http://www.physics.umn.edu/about/area/maps.html