Today’s show offers the following feature: Extraterrestrial intelligence? (start time: 6:30): It’s mid-summer, a time when many of us like to spend leisurely time outside at night, gazing at the stars and planets, and asking the big existential questions, such as, Are we alone? Is there intelligent life waaay out there? Our guest today, science writer Sarah Scoles, has pondered these questions for several years. She discusses with hosts Susan Moran and Joel Parker her just-published biography, Making Contact: Jill Tarter and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Tarter, an astronomer, directed the Center for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Research. Carl Sagan’s 1985 novel Contact” illustrates Tarter’s astronomical work. In the 1997 movie Contact (stemming from Sagan’s novel) actor Jodi Foster played a character who was loosely based on Tarter.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Alejandro Soto
Sometimes when we are having personal or health problems, it helps to get an outside perspective: talk to other friends who have experienced similar problems and how they dealt with them, and other friends about how they avoided those problems. Talk to experts. Then using all that input, we try to make the best choice to solve the problems and to live a long and happy life. This is perhaps the situation we find ourselves in now with the health of our environment and the long-term viability of the human race. So where to we look for that “outside perspective” and expert help? The answer may be: look to other planets and talk to those who study them. This is the approach astrobiologist Dr. David Grinspoon takes in his new book: “Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet’s Future”. Dr. Grinspoon is a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado, and in 2013 he was appointed the inaugural Chair of Astrobiology at the Library of Congress. We had a chance to talk with Dr. Grinspoon about how he compares Earth’s story to those of other planets, and how our present moment is not only one of peril, but also great potential, especially when viewed from a 10,000-year perspective.
Welcome to a special episode of How On Earth with Dr. Seth Shostak, the Senior Astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute. We’ve been listening for their tell-tale signal for 50 years with no luck, but Seth says that he’ll bet a cup of coffee we’ll hear from them in the next few decades. We explore what might happen if we find these brainy aliens or if we don’t find them at all. It’s part of the Conference on World Affairs.