Astronomers like to think big, really big. And they can do that, thanks to ever more powerful telescopes. The bigger, better Hubble telescope now lets us peek at the edge of the Universe. In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge, a trip beyond the solar system, and a search for alien life.
Chris Chyba is a planetary scientist at Stanford and at the SETI Institute. He tells Steve Paulson that the discovery of a vast biomass deep under the Earth's surface has greatly expanded the possibilities for scientists looking for life on other planets. Also, radio astronomer Jill Tarter (who was the basis for Jodie Foster's character in the movie "Contact") tells Steve Paulson what kind of signal she's looking for, and why even a cosmic dial tone is likely to indicate a technology superior to ours. Tarter has been working for SETI (the Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence) since the project's inception.SEGMENT 2:
Russell Doescher teaches astronomy at Southwest Texas State University. He gives Judith Strasser several examples of occasions when astronomical events influenced history, from the Civil War to the Boston Tea Party. Also, Richard Panek, author of "Seeing and Believing: How the Telescope Opened Our Eyes and Minds to the Heavens," tells Jim Fleming just what the repaired Hubble Telescope can see, why looking into deep space is really looking back into time; and how this helps us to understand relativity.SEGMENT 3:
Homer Hickam is a retired NASA engineer and author of "Rocket Boys." He tells Jim Fleming that he was space crazy as a kid; that he and his friends called themselves "the Rocket Boys" and drove his parents nuts; and that their science experiments drew their coal-mining West Virginia town together.Cassette copies are available at 1-800-747-7444. Ask for program number 98-11-15-B.
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