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Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series takes on life beyond Earth

Jill Tarter of the SETI Institute is slated to deliver the presentation “Will the 21st Century Be the Time We Discover Life Beyond Earth?” 7 p.m. Oct. 11 in Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College, 12345 S. El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills.

The illustrated, nontechnical talk is part of the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series at Foothill, now in its 18th year.

Tarter, a scientist leading the effort to search for signals from civilizations among the stars, is the subject of Sarah Scoles’ biography “Making Contact: Jill Tarter and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence” (Pegasus Books, 2017).

Tarter will discuss her vision of the future of understanding life on Earth and beyond the planet, answer questions from the audience and sign copies of the book.

In 2004, Craig Venter and Daniel Cohen suggested that if the 20th century were the century of physics, then the 21st century would be the century of biology. Tarter believes that their idea will be extended beyond the surface of the world and that scientists may soon have the first opportunity to study biology that developed on other planets. The techniques needed would be different, depending on whether scientists are searching for microbes or mathematicians, and the technology required may develop more rapidly than many imagine.

Tarter holds the Bernard Oliver Chair for SETI at the SETI Institute, serves on the management board for the Allen Telescope Array, is President Emeritus of the Board of the California Academy of Sciences and continues to make contributions to the worlds of science, education and the arts.

Actress Jodie Foster portrayed a fictionalized version of Tarter in the film “Contact.” In 2004, Tarter made Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

For more information, visit astrosociety.org/education/ silicon-valley-astronomy-lectures.

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