Considered a leader in the search for planets outside our solar system, Alan Boss says we are at a turning point in our search for extraterrestrial life.
He expects we are on the verge of finding many different Earth-like planets across the universe, and he expects it will be common to find life on those planets. He shares his ideas for how the United States can be on the forefront of the next great discovery: life on another planet.
Alan Boss is an astrophysicist and a research scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington and a member of its Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, where he does research on planetary and stellar formation.
He is also a member of the Science Working Group for NASA's Kepler Mission to determine the frequency of Earth-like planets in the Milky Way Galaxy and serves on the Kepler Science council, the group that will oversee Kepler's planet discoveries. One of the world's leading authorities on the formation of stars and planets, he has been elected a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
UC Berkeley's Center for Integrative Planetary Science's professor Geoff Marcy writes, "Rarely is the history of science so accurately told as in this lively and authoritative book. Alan Boss offers insights about our terrestrial origins, our extraterrestrial brethren, and our destiny in the Galaxy, placing our Earth in the cosmic context for the first time."
Roy Eisenhardt practiced law for twelve years in San Francisco and taught at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law.
He was President of the Oakland Athletics and served as the Executive Director for the California Academy of Sciences for five years.
Roy Eisenhardt has been a frequent interviewer for City Arts & Lectures for the past fifteen years.
"The ultimate proof that exrtraterrestial life doesn't exist is, that we haven't been found. We would probably know."
This is an incredibly naive statement. Humans have only been intelligent enough to broadcast out into space for less than 100 years and civilized for 10,000 out of our planet's 4.5 billion years. The galaxy is 100,000 light years across. The galaxy! Even if there were only 10 other intelligent lifeforms in our galaxy, per conservative estimates on the Drake equation, the chances are minute that they would find us in the time that we've been intelligent enough to distinquish that it's actually another intelligent lifeform contacting us. People grossly underestimate how long humans have been on our planet versus other life. Extraterrestial life could have come and gone, but Tyrannosaurus Rex, which lived far longer than we have, certainly wouldn't have responded.
We will find an exoplanet with oxygen that could harbor life in the next 10 years from the Kepler mission or others. But the problem is that an advanced civilization could have come and gone many times over by the time we find it.