The questions around life on other planets are eternally fascinating, and almost everyone has their own take on if there’s life out there, and, if so, what it might look like. But it’s rare to get a group of expert scientists together who have the chops to speculate realistically and get their opinions on the topic.
But that’s exactly what just took place in celebration of the annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate. This year’s topic was aliens, and the discussion, which took place via video conference, was hosted by Hayden Planetarium chief Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Joining Tyson in the debate were Nathalie A. Cabrol, the director of the Carl Sagan Center for Research, Vera Kolb, a professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Carol Cleland, a professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado, Max Tegmark, a professor of Physics at MIT, and Seth Shostak a senior astronomer & institute fellow at the SETI Institute.
The conversation was wide-ranging and incredibly insightful, but things get fun when Tyson adds science fiction to the mix and asks each expert to name their favorite alien from cinematic lore.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (picked by Cabrol and Kolb)
The Horta from Star Trek (picked by Cleland)
The unseen aliens in Contact (picked by Tegmark)
The xenomorph in Ridley Scott’s Alien (picked by Shostak)
The 1958 classic The Blob (picked by Tyson)
Each pick was accompanied by unique reasoning behind the expert’s pick, which you can find out more about by watching the video below (alien picks start at the 1hr 25min mark).
Cover image via Disney Plus/YouTube