Meet Dr. Paul Davies, chair of the Post Detection Science and Technology Task Group of the International Academy of Astronautics, who discusses the next step to finding intelligent life in the universe. Part 4/5.
Read the full transcript »

MaryLynn: So what if we do find intelligent life out there? Dr. Paul Davies is the chair of the Post Detections Science and Technology Task Group for the International Academy of Astronautics. He points out that the challenges are not only to determine whether there is intelligent life out there in the universe and beyond, but if we find it, then what? What would be our next step? Dr. Davies: I'm a British born cosmologist and theoretical physicist who in recent years have been working in the subject of astrobiology, which is trying to understand the nature of life and its distribution in the universe. And my current position is as director of a new and exciting research and here in Arizona State University called Beyond. And it’s a center for fundamental concept in science. And it bridges all of the things that interest me. All of the great questions in existence, the origin of the universe or even life, and nature of consciousness, mathematical laws that underpin the universe. These are all things that interest me. And they're all encompass in the program of Beyond. MaryLynn: In 2006, Dr. Davies established the Center for Fundamental Concept in Science called Beyond. The mission of the center has been driven by Dr. Davies’ passion for exploring the origin of life and the nature of consciousness. Dr. Davies: One of the great questions of existence is, are we alone in the universe? And this is something that people wondered about for thousands of years. It’s not just a recent preoccupation, we can find discussions of the possibility of other inhabitant of worlds in ancient Greek manuscripts 2000 or 3000 years ago, people were talking about this. MaryLynn: In the SETI project, signals are gathered from the far corners of the universe with telescopes. They are subsequently analyzed using super computers to find patterns that may look like a meaningful signal. Dr. Davies: Today, its part of the scientific program called SETI Research for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. And primarily this is a passive search that is using radio telescopes here on Earth to sweep the skies in the hope that we may stumble across a message from some extraterrestrial civilization. MaryLynn: Due to the enormous distance, it makes more sense to try to detect signals rather than send them. It has been calculated that it would take thousands and thousands of years before our signals reach any star. Dr. Davies: So the best hope in establishing whether there is anyone else out there is if they have send a message this way thousands of years ago. And we just happen to pick it up by pointing our radio telescopes in the right direction. Now obviously this is a needle in a haystack search. First of all, we don’t know that there's any life beyond Earth. It’s still completely conjuntual, we haven't got any positive evidence whatsoever for any form of life beyond our planet. MaryLynn: Even so, many scientist search for life in the vast space with hope and curiosity. Dr. Davies: Nevertheless, I think, maybe scientists believe that there is life elsewhere and some people believe that it is widespread in the universe. And some of that life could be intelligent. In the absence of knowing one where the other, it makes sense to take a look and see what we might find. It’s not expensive to use radio telescopes to listening to the stars to see if there are any messages. Now people have been doing that for about 40 years.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement