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What is the most exciting news on extraterrestrials? (CraveCast Extra)This week on the CraveCast a viewer asked President of METI International Douglas Vakoch what the most exciting news is right now about alien life in our universe. Here's his response.
[NOISE] Someone in the chatroom was asking, hi guys what is the most exiting news on extraterrestrials? Have we covered that already or? Hi Barry. You know I think the most exiting news about extraterrestrials is there are a lot of places they could live. You know just 20 years ago, I mentioned Bernard's Star, which. Back when SETI began, in the early 60s, there was speculation that you know there might be a planet here. There was some evidence that was wobbly of the planet. It turns out that wasn't the case. But it's only been in the last 20 years that we have been able to detect planets around other stars. So I think that is the huge discovery. There's a lot of real estate out there that is potentially inhabitable. And now we're realizing that Earth like planets are all over the place as well, at least super Earth. The other exciting thing is over the last 20, 30 years we've come to better understand the extremes that life can live here on Earth. You know, I'm talking extremes of life. Like, the frozen tundra of the Arctic, the hydrothermal events, acid hot springs, the core of nuclear reactors. So, once life takes hold, it can survive. And so it's looking all and all, the more likely, that our notion of what's a habitable world, may need to be expanded to take into account, the variety of environments that extraterrestrial life could proliferate in. So it seems like everything that we're learning in the past decades, is more and more support, that there could be alien life out there. Some people think its already been here, I haven't seen it. So I need to see the evidence. You're a psychologist, right? Yeah. And so I wonder what, given the work you're doing, what do you think, what's your relationship with human imagination? Because when you're dealing, it seems like. When you're dealing the, you know study, the imagination takes you in all these kind of like fantastic places like Star Trek to conspiracy theories about Area 51. And It seems like the imagination takes you in so many place that can distract from the reality of the actual science, but at the same time And that imagination can people interested on the work that you do. Is there like a? Yeah, I think so. You're right, imagination is great for engaging people. There's something imaginative about the prospects of there being intelligence out there. But if you look at the nature of how science happens, that imagination plays an important at the earliest stages as well. Right. So that. Imagination doesn't prove anything, but imagination is great at generating ideas. When Kepler was trying to understand the motions of the planets, he had this idea about the planets are moving within these perfect geometrical solid Proportions. It turned out it was wrong but it was really helpful to start thinking about things. So I think what you need to always keep in mind is imagination is great for generating hypotheses and then you gotta test those hypotheses and that's where some concrete data comes in. [NOISE]