Paul Robertson, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, University of California, Irvine
We now know, at least statistically, that we live in a galaxy full of billions of planets, with more being discovered every day. But the novelty of adding another planet to our rapidly growing collection is understandably wearing off as we wait to get answers to the really big questions: Are any of these planets inhabited? Are any of those inhabitants intelligent? Learn the techniques astronomers use to find and characterize nearby exoplanets. Next, learn the potential avenues for identifying life on these newly-discovered galactic neighbors, and explore the difference between and importance of discovering both intelligent extraterrestrials and more simple forms of life.