Let’s grapple for a moment with another of the universe’s eternal puzzles. Is there life elsewhere, besides here on earth? Neil deGrasse Tyson at NASA says that “most astrophysicists accept a high probability of there being life elsewhere in the universe, if not on other planets or on moons within our own solar system. The numbers are, well, astronomical: If the count of planets in our solar system is not unusual, then there are more planets in the universe than 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 in the cosmos with life would be inexcusably egocentric of us.”
When astronomers and astrophysicists ask this question of themselves, a strategy is to identify celestial bodies that have conditions similar to those we know here on earth. There’s some clear logic to this. There is also plenty of hard work that goes into pinning down the hard science. It isn’t reasonable to send someone to find out . . . so instead scientists build extraordinary telescopes like the Hubble, the Spitzer and the James Webb. These can identify planets or moons that are the right distance from stars to allow for the presence of liquid water, one of the key necessities for life, at least for life as we currently understand it. It’s complicated. But Dr. Michael Reid of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at University of Toronto will be on hand next week to explain some of it.
Tue Apr 26, 2016
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
North York Central Library, Auditorium
5120 Yonge Street
This program is a part of the Thought Exchange series. Take a ride into the final frontier . . .