January 16 – Happy Birthday, Jill Tarter

Posted on January 16, 2017

Perhaps you have heard of the great divide between the two kinds of science? There's life science way over here -- you know, biology, botany, zoology, microbiology, physiology, anatomy, medical science. And then, over there are the physical sciences -- physics, chemistry, astronomy, geology, meteorology...

When you're in middle school, it seems as if there is a separation between the two general branches of science.

But then...

...Then you realize that there are ALL these connections.

  • Organic chemistry and biochemistry are about the chemistry that happens in living things. 
  • Astrobiology is about extraterrestrial life (and also the possible future of life on Earth).
  • Biophysics is the study of living things with the focus of how the laws of physics affect them.
  • Ecology and environmental science combine non-living (physical) and living things, including landforms, climate, plants / animals / other living things.
  • Oceanography includes physical aspects of the ocean, such as plate tectonics and waves and tides, with the biology of marine animals and other living things.

Today's famous birthday is a hero of one of these interdisciplinary sciences. Jill Tarter earned a Bachelor of Engineering Physics Degree and a Master's and PhD in Astronomy...but most of her work has dealt with astrobiology.

She worked on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), using radio telescopes to search for intelligent signals from other creatures with technologies. She retired from her career in 2012 but is now on the Starmus Board of Directors. This group puts on an international festival that celebrates astronomy, space exploration, music, art, and other sciences that touch on astronomy (cosmology, astrobiology, etc.). Talk about interdisciplinary!

Here are some wise words from Tarter:

Enjoy Tarter's TED Talk, "Join the SETI Search."

Have you ever considered how really very unlikely it is that E.T.s will look almost exactly like us?

Instead, they may look crazy different from us:


Also on this date:

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