In one of astronomy’s greatest modern triumphs, we now know that there are a trillion planets in the Milky Way. Roughly one in five may be similar to Earth. So with so much cosmic real estate, there must be someone out there, right? Science agrees, and may soon augment opinion with discovery. But what about the fact that one-third of the public is convinced that aliens are busy visiting Earth? What does a SETI researcher tell the hundreds of people who phone him every year to report sailing saucers and unauthorized assaults on their persons? Is logic and a recourse to data the best approach to dealing with the UFO believers, and does it even matter?
Seth is Senior Astronomer and Institute Fellow at the SETI Institute, in Mountain View, California. He has an undergraduate degree in physics from Princeton University, and a doctorate in astronomy from the California Institute of Technology. For much of his career, Seth conducted radio astronomy research on galaxies, and has published approximately sixty papers in professional journals. He has written more than five hundred popular magazine, newspaper and Web articles on various topics in astronomy, technology, film and television. For a decade, he chaired the International Academy of Astronautics’ SETI Permanent Committee. Every week he hosts the SETI Institute’s one-hour science radio show, “Big Picture Science” Seth has written, edited and contributed to a half dozen books. His most recent tome is Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (National Geographic), and he is co-author of a college textbook on astrobiology.
Join CFI and find out how we are protecting critical thought and science by visiting: https://centerforinquiry.org
This talk took place at the CSICon 2019 in Las Vegas on October 19, 2019.