Are We Alone in the Universe? main content.

Are We Alone in the Universe?

Part of SciCafe


Beyond the edges of our solar system, astronomers have recently identified dozens of planets which could be like our own Earth—and potentially support extraterrestrial life. But how can we tell? Astrophysicist Lisa Kaltenegger explores how we can use our own planet and its wide range of species as a Rosetta Stone to detect signs of life on exoplanets. Join her for a journey over vast interstellar distances to answer an age-old question: are we alone in the universe?

This SciCafe event occurred on November 1, 2017. Hear the full talk in this podcast, or watch a video version here:

Watch all past SciCafe programs here. 

Doors open at 6 pm
Pre-SciCafe Special Event begins at 6:10 pm
SciCafe begins at 7 pm


Join us for a live sea-to-shore video feed with geologists, chemists, biologists, and engineers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution exploring the deepest high-temperature hydrothermal vents in the Pacific. These recently discovered vents are the only carbon-enriched vents known in the ocean, and an important link to understanding the potential for other "Ocean Worlds" in the solar system to support life. Interact with scientists onboard in real time via the Inner Space Center, moderated by Museum astrophysicist Jacqueline Faherty.

Watch Nautilus LIVE!

About the Speaker 

Lisa Kaltenegger

Lisa Kaltenegger is Associate Professor at Cornell University and Director of the Carl Sagan Institute. Her research focuses on rocky planets and super-Earths atmospheres in the habitable zone, as well as the spectral fingerprint of exoplanets that can be detected with the next generation of telescopes. She was named one of America’s Young Innovators 2007 by Smithsonian Magazine, was selected as one of the European Commission’s Role Models for Women in Science and Research, and received the Heinz Meier Leibnitz Prize for Physics of Germany in 2012.

Read More

  • Learn more about this month’s SciCafe speaker and her research here
  • Read about volcanic hydrogen and how it spurs chances of finding exoplanet life.
  • Lisa Kaltenegger speaks about what it might be like on the surface of an exoplanet.
  • Listen to a podcast by Locally Sourced Science on how we look for and find exoplanets.
  • Watch a playlist featuring videos in English, Spanish, and German about the search for life in the universe.
  • An article on searching for life on Proxima B.

Frequent Geek Cards

Get your card stamped at the information table when you attend SciCafe.

  • Three stamps—get a free drink
  • Five stamps—get a free Frequent Geek T-shirt.
  • All nine stamps— and receive get two tickets to a special exhibition of your choice.
  • Bring three friends who are new to SciCafe to become a "SciCafe Ambassador”—an honor that comes with a free drink!


Show your SciCafe spirit! Best picture posted on social media using #AMNHSciCafe will be selected at the end of the evening to receive geeky giveaways.

The SciCafe series is proudly sponsored by Judy and Josh Weston.