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New Clues In The Search For Intelligent Life46:55
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New research finds lots of earth-like planets out there. We check in on the search for intelligent life in the universe.

This artist’s impression shows an imagined view from the surface one of the three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star just 40 light-years from Earth that were discovered using the TRAPPIST telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory. (M. Kornmesser/ESO)
This artist’s impression shows an imagined view from the surface one of the three planets orbiting an ultracool dwarf star just 40 light-years from Earth that were discovered using the TRAPPIST telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory. (M. Kornmesser/ESO)

First came word from the Kepler space telescope that there are many more planets out there than we knew. Then came Hillary Clinton’s comments that we may have already have been visited by extraterrestrials, that she would open the X-files for all to read. Stephen Hawking is sending out a fleet of mini-spacecraft to make contact. It’s left us thinking again about intelligent life in the universe beyond Earth. This hour, On Point: the latest research, the latest thinking on who or what may be thinking out there.
-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute. Author of Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist's Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. (@SethShostak)

Matthew Stanley, associate professor of the history and philosophy of science at the New York University Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Author of Huxley's Church and Maxwell's Demon: From Theistic Science to Naturalistic Science.

From Tom's Reading List

The Universe Has Probably Hosted Many Alien Civilizations: Study — "The researchers then calculated the probability that Earth was the universe's first-ever abode for intelligent life, after taking into account the number of stars in the observable universe (about 20 billion trillion, according to a recent estimate)."From a fundamental perspective, the question is, 'Has it ever happened anywhere before?'" Frank said. "Our result is the first time anyone has been able to set any empirical answer for that question, and it is astonishingly likely that we are not the only time and place that an advanced civilization has evolved." (Space.com)

The TRAPPIST-1 Star Is Where the Hunt for Intelligent Life Is Heading Next — "Three new exoplanets in a star system just 40 light-years away from Earth have captured the attention of astronomers. They say it might be the perfect place to search for signs of life. The most exciting part is that the planets are about Earth-sized, which makes them good candidates for hosting life. They're also orbiting a really dim star that will make it easy to study their atmospheres. That means if life is hiding on these three planets, it'll be easier to find signs of it." (Mic)

Astronomers Have Found Planets in the Habitable Zone of a Nearby Star — "Were life to have gained a foothold in a dark pocket on one of these planets, it would almost certainly seem very strange to us.  “It would receive no light in the optical range,” Gillon says, and couldn’t rely on photosynthesis. “It would have to develop techniques to get energy from the infrared.” There are a few microbes on earth that do this, “but on this planet it would be the rule, not the exception.” And, the dreamt-of habitable pockets may very well not exist at all. The planets could have lost whatever atmosphere they may have had to erosion by ultraviolet light early in the system’s history." (The Atlantic)

This program aired on May 19, 2016.

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