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Sunday, June 3, 2018
11:00 am - 12:30 pm EST

Are we alone in this vast universe? Some think that’s highly unlikely. With new technologies joining the search, NASA estimates we’ll find definitive evidence of aliens within 20 to 30 years. Which raises the vital question: And then what? Will the news inspire jubilation, despair, or fear? Will aliens be seen as gods or interlopers? Evidence of alien life will provoke fundamental questions about our place in the universe–not just about who they are, but also who we are. Join astronomers, astrobiologists, anthropologists, philosophers, and linguists as we ponder these issues.

The Big Ideas Series is supported in part by the John Templeton Foundation.


Wendy ZukermanScience Journalist

Wendy Zukerman is a science journalist and host of Gimlet Media’s podcast Science Vs. She previously worked at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and New Scientist Magazine.

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Kathryn DenningAnthropologist

Kathryn Denning is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at York University in Toronto. Her research includes projects on the social impacts of astrobiology and SETI, the evolution of intelligence, and contemporary ideas concerning the colonization of space.

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David KippingAstrophysicist, Columbia

David Kipping is a Professor of Astronomy at Columbia University where he leads the Cool Worlds Lab – a research team primarily focussed on discovering new planets and moons. Kipping’s …

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Karen Lewisphilosopher

Karen Lewis is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Barnard College, Columbia University. She specializes in philosophy of language, with a particular focus on the interface between semantics and pragmatics. Her work is informed both by philosophy and linguistics and much of it seeks to explain how a conversational context affects what a speaker communicates, and vice versa.

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Marcelo MagnascoBiophysicist

Marcelo Magnasco carried out his undergraduate studies in Physics at the University of La Plata, in Argentina, and his PhD, also in Physics, at the University of Chicago, and currently heads the Laboratory of Integrative Neuroscience at Rockefeller University.

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