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25 January 2010
What will aliens look like if
we find them? Will we be meeting life-forms incredibly
similar to ourselves? Or will they be the frightful monsters of sci-fi films?
How do you break news of alien discoveries to the world without creating
wide-spread pandemonium? These are just some of the questions that will be
discussed at a two-day conference starting today (Monday 25 January) at The
Royal Society in London. The discussion meeting The detection of
extra-terrestrial life and the consequences for science and society is the
first to take place in the Royal Society’s 350th anniversary year.
Astronomers are now able to detect planets orbiting stars other
than the Sun where life may exist, and living generations could see the signatures
of extra-terrestrial life being detected. Should it turn out that we are not
alone in the Universe, it will fundamentally affect how humanity understands
itself and we need to be prepared for what will follow.
Highlights of the conference include Professor Simon Conway Morris FRS on predicting what
extra-terrestrial life might be like and preparing for the worst, Professor
Albert A Harrison on what the reality of human responses to extra-terrestrial
intelligence might be, and Nobel prize winner Christian de Duve on life as a
A line-up of world-leading astronomers, biologists and
astrophysicists including SETI founder Dr Frank Drake, principal investigator for the British Beagle
2 Mars lander project Professor Colin Pillinger and Director of the BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science Professor Paul
Davies, will be discussing man’s search for extra-terrestrial life and the
consequences for science and society. Speakers will also include
representatives from NASA, the European Space Agency and the UN Office for
Outer Space Affairs. Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society and Astronomer
Royal will also be chairing one of the sessions.
Professor Paul Davies will also give a public lecture ‘The Eerie Silence: are we alone in the universe? ’ on Tuesday 26th
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The Government’s spending decisions for the financial year 2015-16 provide an important opportunity to strengthen the role of research and innovation as drivers of UK growth and competitiveness, according to the UK’s four national academies, including the Royal Society.
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