Cosmic Queries – Life on Exoplanets with Sara Seager

Shown: High-resolution still illustration of the potential exoplanet WD 1856 b with its host star. Credit: NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center.
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About This Episode

Is there life on other planets? On this episode of StarTalk, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Matt Kirshen dig into the search for extraterrestrial life with exoplanet expert and author of the memoir, Smallest Lights in the Universe, astrophysicist Sara Seager. 

Discover what astrophysicists and astrobiologists are looking for in their search for life. Are planets rare? Explore the establishment of exoplanetary research from the beginning of the space race to now. Find out about hot Jupiters, what they have, and don’t have, in common with our own Jupiter. 

You’ll learn about biosignatures and how long it could take us to find another planet that has life. What biosignature gases would aliens look for on earth? We explore how long it would take earth’s oxygen to disappear if all the plants on the planet got wiped out. 

The questions from our fans keep coming, which isn’t surprising since we’re also celebrating the publishing of our new StarTalk book, Cosmic Queries. What is the probability of life in the universe finding each other? What would it mean culturally and scientifically to discover other life in the universe? How do we take into account the Fermi paradox and what are some of our favorite explanations for it? 

What forms of communication are most likely to cross the cosmos? How would we even get past the language barrier with another life form? Could extraterrestrial life be too alien for us to recognize? You’ll hear about the ways scientists think other life may differ from our own. Is it possible to have a non-carbon-based lifeform? We also explore the habitable zones and whether life may be found outside of them. 

All that plus we dive into what alien entertainment and leisure activities would look like, what we think alien senses could be, and other imaginings of beings outside of earth. 

Thanks to our Patrons zach hughes, Bryan Hurley, Leona Shimoru, Syed A Bilgrami, Dan Snider, Shelia Hutson, Joshua Ratcliffe, Mick Pirgmann, Matthew Stares, and heyohriver for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

About the prints that flank Neil in this video:

“Black Swan” & “White Swan” limited edition serigraph prints by Coast Salish artist Jane Kwatleematt Marston. For more information about this artist and her work, visit Inuit Gallery of Vancouver.

In This Episode

  • Host

    Neil deGrasse Tyson

    Neil deGrasse Tyson
    Astrophysicist
  • Co-Host

    Matt Kirshen

    Matt Kirshen
    Comedian
  • Guest

    Sara Seager

    Sara Seager, PhD
    Astrophysicist, Professor of Planetary Science, Professor of Physics, and Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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