Dickinson Memorial Library discussion to ask ‘Are we alone in the universe?’

  • Dickinson Memorial Library in Northfield is offering a virtual talk with astronomer Kelly Beatty on Thursday. Staff File Photo/Shelby Ashline


Staff Report
Published: 2/23/2021 11:39:09 AM

NORTHFIELD — With NASA’s Perseverance rover having landed on Mars last week, earthlings have been left to wonder what the exploration will uncover.

In this stream of thought, the Dickinson Memorial Library is hosting a virtual talk by astronomer Kelly Beatty on Thursday at 7 p.m. to discuss the possibilities of life outside Earth. Atwood said Beatty will lead a “science-heavy” presentation and discussion.

“He’ll be talking about biology, chemistry and astronomy,” Atwood said, “how life came about on Earth, the conditions necessary for it, and the likelihood of finding life on any other planets.”

After briefly surveying the diversity of life on Earth — and the theories of how it started here — attendees will learn about possibly habitable planets within our solar system and worlds around other stars. Additionally, they will discuss efforts to contact alien civilizations directly, via radio transmissions and other means. Atwood said the discussion is “pretty timely, given the recent landing of Perseverance on Mars.”

Beatty follows the efforts of astronomers to find Earth-like worlds orbiting other stars and to determine whether they have the right mix of temperature, water-rich chemistry and long-term stability to sustain life. He also recaps the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, which seeks to intercept transmissions from distant technologically advanced civilizations.

An award-winning writer, Beatty is a senior editor for Cambridge-based Sky & Telescope magazine. He enjoys sharing his passion for astronomy with a wide range of audiences, from children to professional astronomers, and he is sometimes the subject of interviews on National Public Radio and The Weather Channel.

To register for Thursday’s program, email dmemlib@gmail.com.


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