The eerie silence: are we alone in the universe?



Speaker: Professor Paul Davies
Arizona State University
Chair: Jocelyn Bell-Burnell

Fifty years ago, a young astronomer named Frank Drake pointed a radio telescope at nearby stars in the hope of picking up a signal from an alien civilization. Thus began one of the boldest scientific projects in history:  the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). But after a half-century of scanning the skies, astronomers have little to report but an eerie silence, eerie because many scientists are convinced that the universe is teeming with life. The problem could be that we've been looking in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and in the wrong way. In this lecture Professor Davies will offer a new and exciting roadmap for the future of SETI, arguing that we need to be far more expansive in our efforts, by questioning existing ideas of what form an alien intelligence might take, how it might try to communicate with us, and how we should respond if we ever do make contact.

Professor Paul Davies is a British-born theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist and best-selling author. He is Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science and Co-Director of the Cosmology Initiative, at Arizona State University. His research focuses on the “big questions” of existence, ranging from the origin of the universe to the origin of life and the nature of time. He helped create the theory of quantum fields in curved spacetime, which provided explanations for how black holes can radiate energy and what caused the ripples in the cosmic afterglow of the big bang. Paul Davies is a Member of the Order of Australia and a recipient of the Templeton Prize, the Kelvin Medal, and the Royal Society Michael Faraday Prize. The asteroid 1992 OG was officially named (6870) Pauldavies in recognition of his work on cosmic impacts.

The eerie silence: are we alone in the universe? 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK

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For more events please see the events diary.