Are We Alone in the Universe?
For the first time we may have it within our grasp to answer this ancient question


Videography by Nerine & Robert Clemenzi, Edited by Nerine Clemenzi
Copyright © Philosophical Society of Washington.  All rights reserved.

Sponsored by The Policy Studies Organization
In Cooperation with the American Public University

Gavel to Gavel Meeting

Abstract:

Are We Alone in the Universe?

In its 24 years of operations, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has been transforming our view of the Universe.  HST is today in one of its most productive phases, and this talk will review some recent results from HST, and how a subset of these, in combination with NASA’s Kepler mission can be used to quantify key components of the famous Drake Equation, used to describe the probability of life in the Universe. I will show how this can be further constrained using observations expected from James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the foundations for a space mission beyond JWST that could determine within two decades whether we are alone in the Universe.

 

About the Speader:

Matt Mountain

Matt Mountain is Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, the 500-person institute responsible for the science operations of the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as the future mission and science operations of its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope. He is also the Telescope Scientist for JWST, a member of the JWST Science Working Group, and Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University. Before coming to the Space Telescope Science institute he was the Director of the International Gemini Observatory and led the team that designed, built, and brought into operation the two Gemini telescopes on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and Cerro Pachon, Chile. His research interests have included star formation, advanced infrared instrumentation, and the capabilities of advanced telescopes. He is an author on over 100 research papers, articles, and reports. Matt received a BS in Physics and a PhD in Astrophysics from Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Astronomical Society, the Royal Astronomical Society, and the International Society for Optical Engineering.


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