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Jan. 19, 2001

Kathleen Burton

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

Phone: 650/604-1731 or 650/604-9000

Note to Editors: News media are invited to a free astronomy lecture Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. The program will be held at the Smithwick Theater at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. From Interstate 280, exit at El Monte Road and travel west to the campus. Visitors must purchase a required campus parking permit for $2. Admission to the lecture is free and the public is invited. Call the series hotline at 650-949-7888 for more information.



On Wednesday, Jan. 24, at 7 p.m., Drs. Frank Drake and Peter Ward will discuss the controversial "Rare Earth" hypothesis in the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.

The non-technical program will focus on the question of whether or not habitable planets (like our own Earth) are rare in the cosmos. Ward, a geologist and zoologist at the University of Washington, is co-author of a much-debated book titled "Rare Earth," which suggests that scientists may be too optimistic about finding Earth-like planets and life among the stars. Drake is an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, one of the founders and the chairman of the SETI Institute. He is widely known for conducting the first radio search for possible signals from extra-terrestrial civilizations, and for the Drake Equation, a way of organizing our estimates for the number of such civilizations that might be out there.

There will be an opportunity for questions from the audience after what should be an exciting discussion. This lecture series is cosponsored by NASA’s Ames Research Center, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and the SETI Institute. More than 900 people attended several of the lectures in this series last year. Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Children over 13 are welcome.



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