A discussion of the prospects of finding life, simple or intelligent, beyond our own planet. There is the possibility of finding evidence of life, past or present, on Mars or even below the icy crust of Jupiter's moon Europa. By observing the infra-red spectra of the atmospheres of planets in nearby solar systems we might even find evidence of simple life forms. Beyond our local galactic environment our only chance is to intercept a signal from another intelligent race - SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence - a search in which the lecturer played a role in what has been the most sensitive search ever undertaken, Project Phoenix. Finally, Professor Morison will give his own thoughts about how likely our quest will be achieved.
The transcript and downloadable versions of the lecture are available from the Gresham College website: http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/are-we-alone-the-search-for-life-beyond-the-earth
Gresham College has been giving free public lectures since 1597. This tradition continues today with all of our five or so public lectures a week being made available for free download from our website. There are currently over 1,500 lectures free to access or download from the website.
Gresham Professor of Astronomy Ian Morison made his first telescope at the age of 12 with lenses given to him by his optician. Having studied Physics, Maths and Astronomy at Oxford, he became a radio astronomer at the Jodrell Bank Observatory and teaches Astronomy and Cosmology at the University of Manchester.
Over 25 years he has also taught Observational Astronomy to many hundreds of adult students in the North West of England. An active amateur optical astronomer, he is a council member and past president of the Society for Popular Astronomy in the United Kingdom.
At Jodrell Bank he was a designer of the 217 KM MERLIN array and has coordinated the Project Phoenix SETI Observations using the Lovell Radio Telescope. He contributes astronomy articles and reviews for New Scientist and Astronomy Now, and produces a monthly sky guide on the Observatory's website.