Discovery of extraterrestrial life expected before 2040

Published: Mon 28 Sep 2015 09:20 AM
For immediate release
Visiting American researcher Dr Seth Shostak says humans will find extraterrestrial life in the next 24 years, or he’ll buy you a cup of coffee. That’s the premise of a free public lecture Dr Shostak will make at the University of Canterbury on 13 October.
Dr Shostak will explain why new technologies and the laws of probability make the breakthrough so likely — and forecasts how the discovery of civilisations far more advanced than ours might affect us here on Earth.
Shostak is a senior astronomer at California’s SETI Institute, where over 50 researchers study all aspects of the search for life, its origins, the environment in which life develops, and its ultimate fate. SETI stands for search for extraterrestrial intelligence. In his weekly ‘Big Picture Science’ podcasts heard around the world, Shostak interviews guests about the latest scientific research on a variety of topics: cosmology, physics, genetics, palaeontology, evolutionary biology and astrobiology.
Dr Shostak’s Christchurch lecture will follow his appearance at the Aoraki Mackenzie Starlight Festival (9-11 October 2015), which celebrates the creation of the southern hemisphere’s first international dark sky reserve.
The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve is the world’s largest such reserve (4,367 square km) and the first to gain gold tier status – the highest that can be accorded. Its formation is recognition of the pristine skies above the Mackenzie Basin in the centre of New Zealand’s South Island, which are essentially completely free of light pollution.
The three-day Starlight Festival is an official event for 2015’s International Year of Light and is organised by the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve Board, in partnership with the University of Canterbury, which runs the Mt John Observatory in the area.
The 13 October lecture will be held in the C2 Lecture Theatre on the Ilam campus from 11am until 12 noon. Free tickets are available from Eventfinda.

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