Lonely planets

The event: an Oxford-style debate. The occasion: a celebration of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics’s 123rd year, in conjunction with the University of Chicago’s 125th anniversary last fall. The place: the William Eckhardt Research Center, the department’s new home.

The proposition: by the end of 2042—significant for being 150 years after the department’s founding—remote sensing will reveal evidence of extant life on an exoplanet. The fine print: we don’t have to physically visit the site; evidence does not mean certain proof; organisms must be currently living; and life forms need not be intelligent. The winner: to be determined by audience vote.

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