Listening for Aliens, with Carolyn Porco – StarTalk All-Stars

The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, USA, one of the radio telescopes Breakthrough Listen will use to scan for intelligent life. Image courtesy of NRAO/AUI.

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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?

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Listening for Aliens, with Carolyn Porco – StarTalk All-Stars.

In This Episode

  • Host

    Carolyn Porco

    Carolyn Porco
    All-Stars Host, Planetary Scientist, Cassini Imaging Science Team Leader
  • Co-Host

    Chuck Nice

    Chuck Nice
    Comedian
  • Guest

    Dan Werthimer

    Dan Werthimer
    Co-Founder, Chief Scientist SETI@home; Principal Investigator, Breakthrough Listen Initiative

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