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Aliens in London

21/09/2005. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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From life on other planets to mankind's obsession with extra-terrestrials on Earth‚ the Dana Centre in London - the Science Museum's bar and café annex for adults to discuss contemporary science - is launching a series of debates exploring alien life.

Enthusiasm for extra-terrestrial life has perplexed and intrigued humans since the civilisations of ancient Egypt and Babylon. But why are we so fascinated by aliens? What can life on Earth tell us about how life on other planets might evolve? Where do we get our ideas about aliens and why do we believe them? Is there intelligent life out there? If so‚ will we ever make contact?

Experts at Alien: Evolution‚ Intrigue and Contact include Nick Pope‚ author of 'Open Skies‚ Closed Minds' and Doug Vakoch‚ Director of Interstellar Message Composition at SETI.

Alien: Evolution‚ Intrigue and Contact launches on Tuesday 11 October and is part of a season of Alien themed events‚ debates and comedy nights at the Dana Centre. The series is running in conjunction with the Science Museum's major new exhibition The Science of Aliens‚exploring the line between what we think and what we know about alien life‚ in a quest to answer the eternal question - are we alone?'

Alien: Evolution‚ Intrigue and Contact

Date: Tuesday 11 October‚ Wednesday 26 October and Tuesday 1 November· Time: 19.00-20.30 (doors open at 17.00 for food and drink)
Venue: The Science Museum's Dana Centre‚ 165 Queens Gate‚ London SW7 5HE·

Tube: Gloucester Road·

Tickets are FREE but must be pre-booked on: 020 7942 4040 or tickets@danacentre.org.uk·

The Dana Centre is for over 18's only· The Science of Aliens exhibition opens on 14 October. For information visit www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/aliens

Alien Evolution‚ Tuesday 11 October‚ 19.00-20.30 (in association with Channel 4)

How special is our planet? What can life on Earth tell us about the possible evolution of extra-terrestrials? Could there be life on Mars or a moon of Jupiter‚ and what life forms might evolve on planets around other stars?

Alien Evolution explores how life might evolve on other planets. Audience members are invited to discuss with speakers from the Channel 4 documentary 'Extraterrestrial' whether the conditions for life on earth are unique‚ if life could also exist on planets quite different from our own and what such life might be like. The audience will vote on whether they think life on other planets would resemble life on Earth or be more unusual and debate what implications this knowledge would have for our own evolution.

Alien Intrigue‚ Wednesday 26 October‚ 19.00-20.30

Why are we so fascinated by the concept of extra-terrestrial life? Why do many people believe that we have been visited by aliens? Do our ideas about aliens stem from science fiction or the folklore of fairies and monsters? Are they a psychological projection of human hopes and fears? Or is our interest in a world outside our own an inbuilt phenomenon?

Alien Intrigue explores the significance of the concept of 'aliens' in mankind's history‚ culture and psychology and the emotional and imaginative themes associated with 'aliens'. Audience members are invited to examine what we perceive as alien and what gives us these perceptions. Pre-conceptions about extra-terrestrials will be challenged with explanations of ideas about aliens from history‚ culture and psychology.

Speakers include:

Chris French‚ Head of Anomolistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmith's College‚ London‚ will speak about the psychology of alien abduction experiences‚ their similarity to other paranormal phenomena such as ghosts and their physical grounding in sleep paralysis.

Reverend Neil Hook‚ Senior Lecturer in Science: Fiction & Culture at the Centre for Astronomy and Science Education‚ Glamorgan will discuss how science fiction may have influenced our interest and belief in aliens‚ and whether such belief might have a religious element.

Nick Pope‚ Author of 'Open Skies‚ Closed Minds'‚ MOD employee and UFO believer‚ will talk about unresolved UFO sighting and alien abduction mysteries‚ why they fascinate people and why people believe they are caused by aliens.

Alien Contact‚ Tuesday 1 November‚ 19.00-20.30.

Is there intelligent alien life somewhere out there or are we all alone in the universe? Will we ever make contact with such life? If it exists‚ why have we not been contacted already? What would happen if we did make contact?

Alien Contact debates whether intelligent alien life exists‚ and if it does‚ whether we will ever make contact with it. Speakers will focus on the attempts of SETI to receive radio broadcasts to alien life forms‚ and debate why such attempts have been so far unsuccessful. Audience members can vote on whether they believe that intelligent life exists and discuss why it has failed to make contact with us and what would happen if contact were achieved.

Speakers include:

Doug Vakoch‚ Director of Interstellar Message Composition at SETI will speak about the basic principles of SETI and possible means of communications with extra-terrestrials

Mark Brake‚ Science & Science Fiction lecturer‚ University of Glamorgan‚ will discuss whether we will make contact with extra-terrestrials and argues that aliens may have an intelligence that we do not recognise.

More over at http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk

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