Whether or not we are alone in the universe is one of the oldest questions of existence. For several decades astronomers have been sweeping the skies with radio telescopes hoping to stumble across a message from ET. So far they have been met by an eerie silence. Recent discoveries of many extra-solar planets has raised the hopes that the universe may be teeming with life, but as nobody knows how non-life can turn into life it is impossible to estimate the odds that another civilization exists out there. In my lecture I shall suggest new ways to search for cosmic company.
Paul Davies is a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist and best-selling science author. He is Regents’ Professor at Arizona State University, where he is Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science and co-Director of the Cosmology Initiative. He previously held academic appointments in physics, mathematics and astronomy in the UK and Australia. He is also a Fellow of University College London, a Visiting Professor of Bioengineering at Imperial College London and a Visiting Professor of Physics at the University of New South Wales. He has published about 30 books and hundreds of research papers and review articles across a range of scientific fields. His research interests have focused mainly on quantum gravity, early universe cosmology, the theory of quantum black holes and the nature of time. He has also made important contributions to the field of astrobiology, and was an early advocate of the theory that life on Earth may have originated on Mars. For several years he has also been running a major cancer research project, and developed a new theory of cancer based on tracing its deep evolutionary origins. Among his many awards are the 1995 Templeton Prize, the Faraday Prize from The Royal Society, the Kelvin Medal and Prize from the Institute of Physics, the Robinson Cosmology Prize and the Bicentenary Medal of Chile. He was made a member of the Order of Australia in the 2007 Queen's birthday honours list and the asteroid 6870 Pauldavies is named after him. His more recent books include About Time, The Origin of Life, The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life?, How to Build a Time Machine and The Eerie Silence: Are We Alone in the Universe?