A place to relax, enjoy some coffee and cookies, and explore ideas about our physical universe... for science and non-science types!




In the past decade astronomers have identified over one hundred planets orbiting stars other than the sun. What are those worlds like and is it likely that they host living organisms? Astronomers have also observed organic molecules in interstellar space, many of them orbiting young stars that are probably just now forming planetary systems. How do these systems compare to our own solar system as it was forming? Are distant planetary systems anything like our own? If intelligent life has evolved elsewhere in the galaxy, could extra-terrestrials travel between stars? Might they have tried to communicate with us or visit us? We can explore these questions by applying some very simple principles of physics, biology, and chemistry. Come join the discussion!

Ithaca College has joined up with the Ithaca Visitors Bureau to feature a presentation on ET life by Professor Luke Keller from the Physics Department at Ithaca College, scheduled for Tuesday, February 19, 2008. The Visitors Bureau is highlighting the event in its annual Winter Recess teachers festival, February 18-22. Details are online at http://www.ithacalovesteachers.com/.

Luke Keller, Assistant Professor of Physics, has been teaching at Ithaca College for five years. Dr. Keller is a member of a team of scientists using the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope to study the formation and evolution of extra-solar planetary systems. He currently supports imaging and spectroscopic instrumentation under a NASA contract for a new airborne infrared observatory. He is co-investigator on an NSF-funded program of research on performance-based methods for teaching introductory physics and astronomy.


Searching for Extra-terrestrial Life: Molecules, UFOs, and Little Green Men


The Physics Café is a campus-wide lecture series sponsored by the Physics Department of Ithaca College.   The idea is to grab and hold the attention of science and non-science majors by offering talks on exciting and accessible current topics in physics.   Past Café lectures have featured the time-warping properties of black holes, the exploration of planet Mars, the communication of elephants, and remote sensing of archaeological sites.   The talks are presented in a café environment, where coffee is served and students and physicists can informally discuss new ideas.

The Physics Café regularly draws between 100 and 250 students from IC, so together with the 200-300 teachers from the Bureau event, we expect to attract a total audience of around 300 to 550 people.

Each talk in the Physics Café series is presented by a world-class expert.   These speakers are known for their abilities to communicate with non-scientific audiences, and have won awards for their efforts to engage the public in our search for a physical understanding of the Universe.

The lecture is free and open to the public. There are no pre-requisites!   No requirements!   Everyone is welcome!   Starbucks coffee (caffeinated and decaf.) will be served, along with cookies and biscuits.   An informal talk-back session with the speaker will immediately follow the presentation.

  • For more information on our speaker, please see Dr. Keller at Ithaca College

Contact: Professor Beth Ellen Clark Joseph
Center for Natural Sciences, Room 267
607 274 3968


Read about former Physics Café Talks here:
  Spring 2007: Superstring Theory: The DNA of Reality?
  Spring 2006: Visualizing Complex Electronic Quantum Matter - A Voyage of Exploration and Discovery
  Spring 2005: Whose Line is it Anyway? -- How We Know that Space and Time are Curved
  Fall 2004: Seeing Beneath the Soil
  Spring 2004: The Elephant Seismic Project
  Fall 2003: Black Holes: Small, Medium, and Huge
  Spring 2003: Mars Mission

Read the Press Releases about the Physics Cafe here:
  September 18, 2003
September 08, 2003
August 25, 2003
February 03, 2003
January 01, 2003
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Pages written by Michael Rogers and updated on 03-Feb-2006 at the Ithaca College Physics Department in Ithaca, NY..