Once Upon A Planet

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Science fiction writers have been dreaming up planets - and aliens - for years. But recently, astronomers have discovered hundreds of planets far beyond our solar system. Is there life on those planets, too? In fact and in fiction, Stephen Humphrey explores our need to know that we're not alone in the cosmos.

Participants in the program:

Ray Jayawardhana, Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics at University of Toronto.

Robert J. Sawyer, science fiction novelist.

Jack Cohen, biologist, science writer and science fiction author.

Gregory Benford, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at University of California Irvine, and science fiction author.

Britney Schmidt, Assistant Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.

Jill Tarter, Director, Center for SETI Research (until 2012), Bernard M. Oliver Chair for the SETI Institute.

Image Gallery

Reading List


Jayawardhana, Ray. Strange New Worlds. Harper Collins Publishers Ltd., 2011.

Cohen, Jack and Ian Stewart. What Does A Martian Look Like? The Science of Extraterrestrial Life. John Wiley and Sons Inc., 2002.

Pratchett, Terry, Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart. The Science of Discworld IV. Ebury Press , 2013.

Benford, Gregory and James Benford (Editors). Starship Century: Toward the Grandest Horizon. Lucky Bat Books, 2013.

Shostak, Seth. Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist's Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. National Geographic, 2009.

Impey, Chris (Editor). Talking About Life: Conversations on Astrobiology. Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Bell, Jim. The Space Book: From the Beginning to the End of Time, 250 Milestones in the History of Space & Astronomy. Sterling. 2013.

Science Fiction:

Sawyer, Robert J. Far-Seer: Book One of the Quintaglio Ascension. Tor Books, 2004.

Sawyer, Robert J. Red Planet Blues. Ace Hardcover, 2013.

Benford, Gregory. The Martian Race. Aspect, 1999.

Benford, Gregory. Anomalies. Lucky Bat Books, 2012.

Stewart, Ian and Jack Cohen. Wheelers. Warner Books, 2000.

Lem, Stanislaw. Solaris. Faber and Faber, 1961.

Related Websites

Robert Sawyer SF Writer

Dr. Britney Schmidt

SETI Institute

NASA: PlanetQuest - The Search for Another Earth

NASA: Mars Science Laboratory

Nature of Things: Planet Hunters

Science: Curiosity At Gale Crater

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