Geoff Marcy has been pioneer in the search for extra-solar system planets since the first discovery of an exoplanet surround a main sequence star was made in 1995 by Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz. Within months, Marcy and his team had not only confirmed this result but detected numerous other exoplanets. Seventy of the first one hundred exoplanets were discovered by Marcy’s team, including the firs exoplanet located as far away from its star as Jupiter is to the Sun, and the first exoplanet discovered by observing its transit of its host star, a technique that will be used by JWST to explore the atmosphere of exoplanets to search for bio signatures. Marcy was then a Co-PI on the Kepler Mission, which discovered over 4000 exoplanets. For their pioneering work in the creation of this new field Marcy and Mayor shared the international Shaw Prize in 2005. More recently Marcy has turned his attention to methods to probe for intelligent life in the Universe, first as a PI on the Breakthrough Listen Project, and more recently exploring novel methods, including optical techniques to probe for possible signals of intelligence elsewhere.
We discussed all of these exciting topics, as well as Geoff’s own origins as a scientist in a thoughtful and fascinating discussion. He has become well known not just as a world renown scientist, but as one of the best communicators of astronomy there is. Our discussion will give a whole new dimension to your thinking about that age-old question: Are we alone in the Universe?
As always, an ad-free video version of this podcast is also available to paid Critical Mass subscribers . Your subscriptions support the non-profit Origins Project Foundation, which produces the podcast. The audio version is available free on the Critical Mass site and on all podcast sites, and the video version will also be available on the Origins Project YouTube channel as well.