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Life off Earth: are the aliens out there?


Life off Earth: are the aliens out there?

What is the likelihood of intelligent life existing elsewhere in the universe? These questions have returned to the centre of attention since the launch of NASA’s Kepler mission. Already, hundreds of so-called exoplanets have been discovered and the first potentially habitable planets are being identified. In this illuminating debate, filmed at the Battle of Ideas a panel of experts consider the possibilities and implications of sentient life being detected elsewhere in the galaxy and how this affects our perception of what it means to be human. Speakers include:  Dr John Elliott, Post Detection Task Force member; writer and teacher Richard Swan; author Mark Vernon and the Chair is Sandy Starr from the Progress Educational Trust.

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Related topics: Debates, Science Progress

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Richard said:

This was a fantastic debate, very informative. I’m a bit of a skeptic when it comes to extra terrestrials but we know that an abundance of life exist here on earth which in itself is a stupendous chance which took billions of years of the evolution process. I agree with one of the speakers who said the chances of finding micro-organisms is more likely but pushing the envelope on the ‘chances’ of finding alien life I use Neil DeGrasse Tyson fantastic analogy of using a pint glass in the ocean to check for fish and when doing so saying “No, no fish here”. With this analogy my skepticism goes out of the window.

Imlovinit said:

This is really intriguing. I do find this quite a hard debate to get my head round as I suppose I thought the aliens discussion was for weirdos and UFO watchers but its clear its not and this is about being human. The idea of applying political correctness to non terrestrial life is really weird though.

Randolph Ferry said:

This was a fascinating debate even though the subject seems initially quite whacky. The thing that grabs me is that the panel and audience advance ideas about extra-terrestrial life and it tells us more about what people think of humanity right now rather than what the currently unknown ‘alien’ might be. One telling comment mentioned our (humanity’s) arrogance in assuming that we would know, understand or be superior to any alien life we may discover. The references to animal or even Neanderthal intelligence also signal our disavowal of human achievement to date. The apparently existential question remains, “what if, in the whole universe thus far understood, we are the best there is?”