Are We Alone in the Universe?

According to Enrico Fermi, there’s a high probability of extraterrestrial life, but we haven’t found any yet. Why is that? Listen in as top scientists discuss the question of what and who else might be out there.

Featuring Adam Frank (University of Rochester), Louisa Preston (astrobiologist and author), Jason Thomas Wright (Pennsylvania State University), and Stephen M. Gardiner (University of Washington), with moderation by Ira Flatow (PRI’s Science Friday), this podcast features audio from the fifth event in our series, The Physics of Everything.

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Adam Frank | NPR: Cosmos & Culture

We’re entering uncharted territory. For more than 2,000 years, we humans have been arguing about life and, in particular, intelligent life in the universe. But arguing was pretty much where it always ended. For all that time, we never had any evidence or any data that could raise the discussion above two people with different opinions yelling at each other.

But this era may well be nearing its end.

The “exoplanet” revolution of the last 20 years has shown us that the universe is awash in alien worlds. More exciting, we now have methods where the atmospheres of those worlds may provide indirect evidence—called “bio-signatures”—for the existence of life. Over the next few decades we may finally have data relevant to the question of other life in the universe.

But what if we want to ask about intelligence? What about alien civilizations — or, as I like to call them, “exo-civilizations”?

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(Image: Rassamee Cafe | Shutterstock)