CSU, Chico News

Program on Extra Terrestrial Intelligence

Date: 10-30-2008

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Greg Liggett
Northern California Natural History Museum

The Society of Physics Students from the Department of Physics, along with the Northern California Natural History Museum (NCNHM) at California State University, Chico, will offer a public presentation on the search for extra terrestrial intelligence.

Ben Zuckerman, professor of physics from UCLA, will present a talk titled “Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe.” The program will be Wednesday, Nov. 5, at 7 pm on the CSU, Chico campus in Holt Hall, room 350. Zuckerman was recently interviewed on the Blue Dot Report, a locally-produced, science-based radio show which runs on North State Public Radio and is sponsored by NCNHM.

Professor Zuckerman holds an undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in physics, a Master’s in Science at MIT in aeronautics and astronautics, and a PhD in astronomy from Harvard University.

The primary focus of Zuckerman’s recent research is identification of young stars near Earth. Knowledge about such stars can contribute to astronomy in many ways. High spatial resolution studies of these stars will enable astronomers to learn how planetary systems originate and develop during a critical period in their lives. Many of the stars that Zuckerman and his colleagues are identifying have ages in the range between 10 and 40 million years, during which time it is believed that our own solar system was arriving at something like its present form, 4.5 billion years ago.

On his Web site, Zuckerman writes that he believes that ”if astronomy is to have a viable future, then people must confront the declining environmental health of the world. Unfortunately, major U.S. environmental organizations too often react to symptoms of environmental decline rather than to underlying causes.”

The program is free and intended to be enjoyed by a general audience. Details on this and other museum programs can be found at the museum’s Web site, www.ncnhm.org.