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The Forum to present expert on extraterrestrial intelligence

RELEASED: Jan. 26, 2010

Seth Shostak
Seth Shostak

EAU CLAIRE — Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute, will speak Feb. 8 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The Forum will present his address — "When Will We Find the Aliens?" — at 7:30 p.m. in Schofield Auditorium.

Shostak participates in the scientific search for intelligent life in the cosmos at the privately run SETI Institute in California, the research organization that runs the world's most sensitive search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The research seeks evidence of life in the universe by looking for some signature of its technology.

Polls routinely show that the majority of the public believes that we are not the only thinking beings in a universe that is both old and enormously vast. In his Forum address Shostak will outline how scientists are trying to find out whether that belief is just a fondness for some cosmic company or a suspicion that can be proven using the sharp and objective tools of science.

Shostak is keen on interesting the public — especially young people — in science, and he readily translates the most complex discoveries into terms accessible to everyone. He hosts "Are We Alone?" — a weekly hour-long science radio show that spotlights the latest scientific research in cosmology, physics, genetics, paleontology, evolutionary biology and astrobiology. He has published hundreds of popular articles on various topics in astronomy, technology, film and television, as well as more than 60 research papers. A frequent lecturer on his work at the SETI Institute, he is a frequent commentator on radio and television.

In his new book, "Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist's Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence" (National Geographic Books, 2009), Shostak offers an entertaining and expert account of the facts, fantasies and futures of finding intelligence elsewhere in the universe and how real science differs from the Hollywood view of extraterrestrial life. The edgy and amusing memoir reveals the true story of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and discloses what we may soon discover. Contrary to popular opinion, any aliens Shostak anticipates finding would be super-smart post-biological thinking machines, not blobs of protoplasm.

Shostak holds a doctorate in astronomy from the California Institute of Technology and an undergraduate degree in physics from Princeton University. He received the Klumpke-Roberts Award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in 2004, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy. In January Shostak was named a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, a nonprofit scientific and educational organization that promotes scientific inquiry, critical thinking, science education and the use of reason in examining important issues.

The Forum program will be interpreted for the deaf and hard of hearing. Shostak's presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer session and an informal reception.

Tickets for The Forum are $8 for the public, $6 for those 62 and older and UW System or Chippewa Valley Technical College faculty and staff, and $4 for those 17 and younger and UW System or CVTC students. Student tickets are half-price ($2) until the day of the event; on the day of the event, students will be required to pay the full student ticket price.

Tickets are available at the Service Center in the east lobby of Davies Center and will be sold at the door. Patrons also may charge their tickets to MasterCard, Visa or Discover when ordering by phone. Call 715-836-3727 or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, call toll-free 800-949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.

Wisconsin Public Radio, Community Television and WHYS Radio have contributed generous promotional support for The Forum. The Forum also is funded in part by Visit Eau Claire ... The Unexpected Wisconsin. Best Western Trail Lodge Hotel & Suites (715-838-9989), 3340 Mondovi Road, is The Forum's exclusive accommodations partner.

Funded by the students of UW-Eau Claire, The Forum is administered by the Activities and Programs office.

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JS/DW

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