March 30, 2013 6:58 pm
Little green men. Greys. My Favorite Martian. Venusians with a third eye in the center of their head. There was a time when the easiest way to get labeled a crackpot was to say you believed in aliens.
How times have changed.
In his book Death By Black Hole, Neil deGrasse Tyson writes that “most astrophysicists accept the probability of life elsewhere. The reasoning is easy: if our solar system is not unusual, then there are so many planets in the universe that, for example, they outnumber the sum of all sounds and words ever uttered by every human who has ever lived. To declare that Earth must be the only planet with life in the universe would be inexcusably bigheaded of us.”
Of course, we still have no proof of alien life, let alone of sentient aliens capable of communicating with us or visiting our planet.
Whether you believe in the existence of aliens or not, or even if you believe that proof exists but it’s been kept secret, I think you’re going to like this week’s podcast, Cosmic Queries: Aliens.
Because it’s a chance to hear the Director of the Hayden Planetarium and a noted astrophysicist answer your questions about aliens: What senses might an extraterrestrial have beyond the ones humans possess. What laws of physics might limit the forms alien life could take? How near would an alien civilization have to be to detect life on Earth? Is the “Wow!” radio signal recorded by a SETI researcher in 1977 alien in origin?
The answers are grounded in science. From a discussion of carbon vs. silicon as a building block for life to how far radio waves have traveled, Neil informs his answers with chemistry and physics, not science fiction and fantasy. (Although Neil does answer a fan question about whether it would be right to destroy an alien species if it were like the one in the movies Alien and Aliens.)
My favorite part of the episode comes when comic co-host Leighann Lord asks Neil a question a mother submitted for her 9-year old son about what he would want to learn from an alien if he ever met one.
You’ll have to wait to hear his answer yourself, though. The episode will be on our website and on iTunes Sunday night, March 31st, at 7:00 PM ET.
That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
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