About This Episode
Is anybody out there? How would we know? And what happens if there is? Welcome to our second episode of StarTalk All-Stars, when host Carolyn Porco, and her guest Dan Werthimer, principal investigator of the Breakthrough Listen Initiative, answer your Cosmic Queries about the search for ET, chosen by co-host Chuck Nice. You’ll learn why Breakthrough Listen is the most comprehensive search for extraterrestrial intelligence ever, a new leap forward able to scan 10 times more of the sky and 5 times more of the radio spectrum, with 50 times greater sensitivity than any previous SETI project. You’ll hear about the search for life on the moons of exoplanets, as well as the possibility of microbial life here in our solar system. Explore the difficulties with the Drake Equation, which predicts the likelihood of intelligent alien civilizations, as well as the difficulties of designing instruments and spacecraft to detect life forms that could be quite different from us. Find out what a “second genesis” in our solar system could tell us about the chances for life in the rest of the universe. Carolyn and Dan discuss the protocols that are in place for responding to an alien signal and ponder an even bigger question: who should speak for Earth if we do make contact? Finally, dive into one of the most controversial issues being debated today: should humanity be broadcasting our existence to the galaxy at large, or is that a recipe for disaster that could end up with humanity’s enslavement…or worse?
In This Episode
All-Stars Host, Planetary Scientist, Cassini Imaging Science Team Leader
Co-Founder, Chief Scientist SETI@home; Principal Investigator, Breakthrough Listen Initiative