Feb 9, 2011 - "Intelligent life in the Universe" - Dr. David Helfand

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Feb 9, 2011 - "Intelligent life in the Universe" - Dr. David Helfand, President of Quest University (Squamish), Professor of Astronomy at Columbia University

Some notes taken by the Acting Secretary during the presentation:

bulletThe title is a question, not a statement!
bulletDrake Equation
bulletDavid filled in first four (astronomical) terms
bulletKepler Mission - last week 1,235 new planetary candidates using first 4 months of observation; 68 Earth-size and 288 are rocky
bulletComplex molecules depend on temperature, elemental composition and stability
bullet7,500 civilizations perhaps, but the nearest is 1,000 light years away, but why would they talk to us? We've only been able to communication in interstellar space for the last 40 years.
bulletAll other civilizations will have existed much longer than humans
bullet"�how vast those Orbs must be, and how inconsiderable the Earth, the Theatre upon which all our mighty Designs, all our Navigations, and all our Wars are transacted, is when compared to them. A very fit Consideration, and matter of Reflection, for those Kings and Princes who sacrifice the Lives of so many People, only to flatter their Ambition in being Masters of some pitiful corner of this small Spot." - Christiaan Huygens.
bulletEnrique Ferme made the argument that other civilizations don't exist before Drake formulated his equation.
bulletWhat is extraterrestrial intelligence? Not like us for sure.

David J. Helfand is chair of the Department of Astronomy Columbia University as well as the co-director of the Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory. He has also served as part of the university's Physics Department. His stated research interests include radio surveys, the origin and evolution of neutron stars and supernova remnants, and active galactic nuclei. Recently, Helfand has been instrumental in the creation of general education classes oriented around the sciences, developing a course, Frontiers of Science, that has subsequently become part of the Core Curriculum Columbia College, the university's undergraduate liberal arts and sciences division.

Dr. Helfand joined Quest University in Squamish, British Columbia, as a Visiting Tutor in 2007 and now serves as Quest's President.

Helfand holds a B.A. from Amherst College and a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

A 34 minute video of a similar presentation given by Dr. Helfand at Columbia University in 2006:


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