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17:30 - 20:00 8 December 2011
Is the Earth Rare?
Christopher Ingold Chemistry Lecture Theatre |
Christopher Ingold Building
20 Gordon Street | London | WC1H 0AJ | United Kingdom
Ticketing: Pre-booking essential
Professor James Kasting, Leading expert in habitable planets, Penn State University
In their 2000 book, Rare Earth, Peter Ward and Don Brownlee argue that complex life (animal life) is rare in our galaxy for a variety of reasons, some of which are based on the idea that habitable planets are themselves rare. Possible reasons for this include;
1) Plate tectonics (possibly necessary to stabilize planetary climates) is rare 2) Large moons (possibly necessary to stabilize planetary obliquities) are rare 3) Magnetic fields (possibly necessary to retain atmospheres) are rare 4) the Sun is anomalously metal-rich 5) Jupiter-sized outer planets (possibly necessary to protect the Earth from frequent large impacts) are rare.
This talk will review these arguments and show that most, or all, of them are less troubling than Ward and Brownlee supposed.
The session includes a public lecture, wine reception and book signing and is supported by the UCL Grand Challenges.
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