they think it would affect others’ beliefs, he was surprised to find that most say it would more solidly establish their religious beliefs while the beliefs of others would change.

Kaufman asked Seager and Benner if there is a “moral/transcendent component” to their work. Seager replied no, that she wants to find other Earth out of “sheer curiosity.” Benner also said no, explaining that “we are part of this grand experiment that is going from the slime to … maybe the entropic death of the universe. We are part of this grand experiment…. Morality is a separate thing entirely. I don’t kill puppies or steal people’s belongings.”

In closing, the group had a brief discussion about how Hollywood deals with science in the context of entertainment. Seager commented that real science does not sell, and “even if Hollywood really knows” the science being depicted is wrong, that does not mean they will not make the movie, as the film 2012 demonstrates.

Pappalardo closed by noting that it was Carl Sagan’s birthday that day and “we can reflect on his extremely effective communication style.” Sagan’s zest for the search for life infused much of his work and his teaching, Pappalardo said, so in thinking about how to communicate with the public about the Grand Questions, Are we alone? is the grandest of them all and can be a way to engage them.



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