The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, with Jill Tarter

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About This Episode

Are they out there? If they are, where are they? Are we alone? Are we listening? StarTalk Radio host Neil deGrasse Tyson sits down with astronomer Jill Tarter, former director of the SETI Institute, to find out about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence in the universe. You’ll find out how the movie Contact sparked a growth in public enthusiasm towards the search for alien intelligence, why Jill stopped studying brown dwarf stars and switched to searching for aliens, and whether intelligence is inevitable given the formation of life on a planet. You’ll hear about signals throughout history that have been deemed possible first contact, the Drake equation, whether humans should listen first, then transmit signals later, and if we’re actually searching for artificial intelligence. Neuroscientist Lori Marino drops in to discuss the intelligence landscape, dolphins, and how to expand our definition of intelligence. Neil ponders how the “SETI people” can be confident we can communicate with aliens if we can’t even communicate with dolphins. Data journalist Mona Chalabi shares some data on SETI@home and how you can get involved in the search yourself. All that, plus, our in-studio panel answers fan-submitted Cosmic Queries, Neil and Jill offer thoughts on the cosmic perspective, and Bill Nye urges us to keep listening.

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, with Jill Tarter, and Neil’s extended interview with Jill Tarter here.

CORRECTION: In our episode, we stated that 1.6 million users from 233 different countries had participated in the SETI@home project. We should more accurately have said “233 countries, protectorates, overseas departments and territories, freely associated states, etc.”

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