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Christian Kaiser

Press Release - 04 July 2008

Extrasolar planets: Can we find another Earth?

Life could exist on planets with masses similar to Earth, says Dr Christian Kaiser who will speak at the next Bath Science Café (7.30pm, Monday 14 July 2008, in The Raven pub, Queen Street).

The first unambiguous detection of a planet around a star other than the sun was only made in 1992. Today we know of more than 300 such planets.

This raises some interesting questions, which will be discussed by Dr Kaiser in his talk: Are these planets anything like the ones we know in our own solar system? Is there a chance of any life on them? Should we worry, rejoice or shrug shoulders if there was life? How did we find all these planets in the first place?

“There has been breathtaking progress in finding planets,” said Dr Kaiser from the School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Southampton. “The proof of life on another planet would be a huge scientific discovery and would also severely challenge our social, political and religious thinking.

“Until recently, most detected planets have masses much larger than that of Earth, but new discoveries push that limit down to only a few Earth masses,’ added Dr Keiser. “Planets comparable to Earth should have solid surfaces and may harbour life.”

“However, the distances between stars in our galaxy are enormous. Therefore, there is no way that life forms from another planet, if such exist, could have already visited us on Earth.”

Dr Keiser’s talk will include an overview the techniques of new planets detection, present the latest discoveries and discuss the possibilities of life on other planets.

The event will be held in The Raven pub in Queen Street in the centre of town. No tickets or reservations are required - just turn up at 7.30pm for an 8pm start.

Organisers will ask for a small voluntary donation to cover travel costs for the speakers. Next Bath Science Café event will be: Monday 8 September: Synthetic biology: from engineering molecules to new forms of 'life'.

To register for email alerts about forthcoming Science Café events, contact Melissa Spielman, email address above.

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