Looking for alien life — lecture

2013-08-12 00:00

THE question of whether life exists on other planets, other solar systems, other galaxies has generated considerable interest in recent years.

And if experiments supported by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) support the belief of the existence of extraterrestrial life, then it could exist. The Durban University of Technology will host a public lecture by internationally acclaimed astrophysicist Professor Jayant Narlikar titled “Searches for Alien Microlife in the Earth’s Atmosphere” at 1 pm on Tuesday, August 13, at the University’s Steve Biko Campus Library (LC 011).

Narlikar headed a series of experiments by ISRO where payloads attached to balloons were flown up to heights of 41 km to sample air. The flights led to remarkable discoveries of cells and bacteria. These experiments will be the focus of his lecture.

“The DNA-based life that we know here on the Earth is made of many complex organic molecules and since the 1960s we are finding them amongst many others in the giant molecular clouds in our Milky Way galaxy,” Narlikar said.

“A further support for belief in extraterrestrial life was provided when extra-solar planets began to be discovered. Today more than 500 such planets are known. Encouraged by these facts, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence programme seeks to look for life in our stellar neighbourhood by sending radio messages with technical information. If we get a reply, this will prove the existence of progressive life in the universe.”

Narlikar is the Emeritus Professor at Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) Ganeshkhind at Pune University, India. He is internationally known for his work in cosmology.

RSVP to sinegugunp@dut.ac.za

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