The 2,434th Meeting of the Society

February 5, 2021 at 8:00 PM

Zoom Webinar

The Search for Extraterrestrial Life

Are We the Sharpest Cookies in the Jar?

Abraham (Avi) Loeb

Baird Professor of Science
Director, Institute for Theory and Computation, Center for Astrophysics
Harvard University

Video

About the Lecture

The search for extraterrestrial life is one of the most exciting frontiers in Astronomy. First tentative clues were claimed close to Earth: the weird interstellar object `Oumuamua and the cloud deck of Venus. Our civilization will mature once we find out who resides on our cosmic street by searching with our best telescopes for unusual electromagnetic flashes, industrial pollution of planetary atmospheres, artificial light or heat, artificial space debris or something completely unexpected. We might be a form of life as primitive and common in the cosmos as ants are in a kitchen. If so, we can learn a lot from others out there.

Bibliography
Avi Loeb: Extraterrestrial – The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (January 26, 2021)
ISBN-10 : 0358278147
ISBN-13 : 978-0358278146

About the Speaker

Abraham (Avi) Loeb is the Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University and Director of the Institute for Theory and Computation at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. In addition, he is Founding and a current Director of Harvard’s Black Hole Initiative. He also chairs the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies of Sciences, serves as Science Theory Director for the Breakthrough Prize Foundation and chairs the Advisory Committee for the Breakthrough Starshot Initiative. Previously, Avi was at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He also served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) at the White House.

Avi’s is an author of 8 books and more than 800 research publications, and he has made significant contributions in a wide variety of subjects in astronomy and cosmology, including contributions to the study of black holes, the first stars, the search for extraterrestrial life, and theoretical research on the future and fate of the Universe.

Among other honors and awards, Avi is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Physical Society, the International Academy of Astronautics, and an elected member of the National Academies of Science. He has the distinction of having been the longest serving Chair of the Harvard University Department of Astronomy. And, Time Magazine selected Avi as one of the 25 most influential people in space in 2012

Avi earned his PhD in Physics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.