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Dr Francisco Diego talks Aliens!...Where are you?

As part of the It’s All Academic Festival,  Dr Francisco Diego, Senior Teaching Fellow at the Department of Physics and Astronomy will be running a fascinating session about life in the Universe, and were we might find alien intelligence!


Dr Diego has extensive experience as a presenter, author and broadcaster, appearing in programmes including Stephen Hawking’s Universe, BBC’s The Planets, and most recently the BBC world-wide series, Wonders of the Universe and the Seven Ages of Starlight. We caught up with him to find out more about his work and what we can expect from his talk on 10 June.

My first encounter with a telescope influenced my decision to enter the field of Astronomy. I had always wanted a telescope and, when I was in primary school, a friend of mine had one. When we used it for the first time, we pointed it to the sky and, just by chance, found Saturn with its rings - I will never forget that experience.

In my opinion, what’s interesting about the Universe is that it seems that it develops complex chemical structures that sometimes become life – it seems that primitive life is inevitable.

The most common questions in my field focus on the existence complex life to the level of alien intelligence. The lack of evidence for this so far, however, is the basis of an intriguing paradox – the Fermi Paradox. 

My talk at this year’s first ever It’s All Academic Festival will leave the audience thinking about the accidental nature of our presence on Earth and, therefore, the enormous responsibility of avoiding our auto-extinction, by living in harmony with each other in a sustainable environment.

The big challenge for the future of Astronomy will be the detection of extra-terrestrial life which I believe will be in a very simple form, such a bacteria. This could either be directly in the form of micro fossils on Martian rocks, or indirectly such as free oxygen in the atmospheres of distant extrasolar planets which could be the consequence of photosynthetic processes.

Join Dr Francisco Diego for an exciting talk in the Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre from 14:00 – 15:00 as part of UCL’s first ever It’s All Academic Festival on Saturday 10 June. For more information, and to book your free tickets, please follow this link.