This Startalk episode discusses the question “is there life in the universe?” That’s the question that brought Neil deGrasse Tyson and Eugene Mirman back to the Beacon Theatre in NYC last September with their guests, musician Sean Ono Lennon and comedians Vanessa Bayer and Michael Ian Black. And who better to guide our search for life in the universe than Carolyn Porco, aka Madame Saturn, the leader of the Cassini Imaging Team, who also worked with Carl Sagan on Voyager 1? Join Neil and company as we review that groundbreaking mission and how its first glimpses of Saturn inspired a return trip with Cassini.
Explore the fascinating hexagon on Saturn’s north pole and find out why its rings can be thin but stretch 280,000 kilometers. Investigate the tantalizing possibilities of life on Saturn’s moons Titan and Enceladus. Find out how life could exist outside of Goldilocks zones. When first time StarTalk Live! guest Vanessa wonders if we could just throw some bugs into Enceladus’ ocean and see what happens in a few years, Neil and Carolyn explain the concern about forwards and backwards contamination. StarTalk Live! veteran Michael Ian Black volunteers his own hypothesis for how the moon was formed, while “Bad-ass Science Groupie” Sean doesn’t seem to mind becoming enslaved by a smarter alien race. The discussion on stage turns towards the current debate about whether we should broadcast ourselves to the universe, and Neil asks Carolyn if she warned Carl Sagan about including our cosmic address on Voyager 1. (Eugene wonders if sending a recipe for paella might not have been smarter.) Part One wraps up with Neil asking the audience for Cosmic Queries about the future of the human race on Earth and in space. Stay tuned for Part Two next Friday.