University of Washington physicist Sarah Ballard will deliver “Directions to the Nearest Alien Earth-like Planet: Take the M79 Bus Across the Park” on Fri., Oct. 11, 4 p.m. at NYU’s Center for Genomics and Systems Biology (CGSB) Auditorium (12 Waverly Place, betw. Greene and Mercer Sts.).
The lecture, sponsored by NYU’s Dean for Science and the Department of Physics, is free and open to the public. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call 212.992.9500. Reporters interested in attending must RSVP to James Devitt, NYU’s Office of Public Affairs, at 212.998.6808 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Subways: N/R [8th St.], 6 [Astor Pl.]
Ballard, a Carl Sagan fellow at the University of Washington, will discuss “exoplanets”—planets that orbit around stars other than the Sun. Historically, astronomers hedged at the question of whether the Sun and its system of planets are unusual in the cosmos. But, now, with state-of-the-art technologies that have the ability to find planets similar to Earth, this new cosmological field is thriving—so much so that fixed relative distances now seem closer to researchers. For example, if the United States was scaled to the size of the galaxy, the east-west span of Central park would be the equivalent distance to the nearest Earth-like planet.
Ballard’s lecture will summarize findings from this year that show Earth as one of many habitable, rocky planets—while also revealing how the environments of these worlds are astoundingly different from the conditions that have nourished life on the third planet from the Sun.