How do We Listen to Space?

“Historically, one of the ways that people knew about plasma in space was from listening to it. It turns out that what we think of as empty space is not actually empty at all.”

Dr. Katie Garcia-Sage

Let’s do a thought experiment. What if Proxima b – the closest planet outside of our solar system with the potential to support life – was home to a civilization like our own. What if we received their television and radio broadcasts? How would we listen in? Could we translate them? And most importantly – could we communicate back?

The first step would be listening in. When we think of listening to space, we usually think of noisy sounds from science fiction. but sound is not the only way that we can find out what is happening in our universe. It turns out, a lot of listening is actually looking, detecting, observing, and learning.

We spoke with a number of astronomers — and others involved with space research — to discover the many different methods for listening to space. There is much to lean about our universe, and who might be with us inside of it.

MEET OUR GUESTS

Dr. Katie Garcia Sage – Plasma Research Specialist
Dr. Aaron Zimmerman – Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics
Pippa Goldschmidt – Writer and Astronomer
Dr. Beth Biller – Royal Observatory, University of Edinburgh
Dr. Dan Tamayo – Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics
Seth Shostak – Senior Scientist at SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence )
Simon Peter Worden –Executive Director, Breakthrough Starshot; former Director of NASA Ames Research Center
Dr. Avi Loeb – Harvard and Breakthrough Initiatives
Dr. Kathryn Denning – York University,  Institute for Science and Technology Studies

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