A few decades ago, we knew of no other planets beyond those in our solar system. Today, astronomers have confirmed over 700 planets circling other suns and believe billions more lay undiscovered. These new worlds have smashed conventional assumptions, revealing planets orbiting multiple stars, planets that don’t orbit stars at all, and at least one as airy as Styrofoam. The incredible boom in planetary diversity raises tantalizing prospects for an Earth analog that could harbor life—as we know it, and as we never imagined it.
This program is part of The Big Idea Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.
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Original Program Date: June 2, 2012
MODERATOR: Dan Harris
PARTICIPANTS: Natalie Batalha, Matt Mountain, Sara Seager
Dan Harris’s Introduction 00:00
Participant Introductions 1:06
Finding the first exoplanet. 2:36
Carbon and water… the building blocks for life. 6:30
Have you found any exoplanets that are just like earth? 12:45
What is the habitable zone? 17:25
How do we get to these exoplanets? 24:30
Is finding life on other planets important? 33:20
How do you find an exoplanet? 42:00
Transiting planets are very valuable for measurements. 50:14
What is the political side to finding exoplanets? 55:00
How do planets form? 1:00:57
What planets has Kepler discovered so far? 1:06:08
What makes you want to do science? 1:12:04
Does spending your time thinking big take away some of the small? 1:16:54
We are in a unique period of discovery. 1:21:15