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Evidence is mounting that life-supporting planets may be more commonplace in the Galaxy than previously thought. As of late August 2016, there are about 3,500 confirmed exoplanets (planets with the right conditions for liquid water, and with it the potential for life) and thousands more candidates. What about life on those planets? What about liquid water oceans on alien worlds?
Dr. Jaymie Matthews, one of Canada’s foremost astronomers and a self-proclaimed astro-paparazzo, will take stage, in a public presentation at Okanagan College, to describe his efforts to spy on planets around other stars that might be homes for alien celebrities.
“The first step in finding abodes for life is to find planets in the Habitable Zones of their stars, whose surface temperatures would allow liquid water,” explains Matthews. “These are known as ‘Goldilocks Worlds’ – not too hot, not too cold, but just right for life as we know it. We live in a revolutionary era for the understanding of the origin and evolution of planets, including our own Earth.”
Matthews’ presentation, entitled Goldilocks and the Three Thousand Worlds: Searching for planets that are "just right" will take place at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus in the lecture theatre on Monday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. The talk launches the 10th season of the Science in Society Speaker Series, which is co-presented by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre.
Matthews is a Professor of Astrophysics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of British Columbia. He leads the MOST (Microvariability and Oscillations of STars) mission – Canada’s first space telescope – and is an expert in the fields of stellar seismology (using the vibrations of vibrating stars to probe their hidden interiors and histories) and exoplanets.
In 2006, Prof. Matthews was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada, and in 2012, he received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
In addition to his accomplished academic record, Matthews is an ambassador in the promotion of astronomy and public science education in general. He holds a 1999 Killam Prize for teaching excellence in the UBC Faculty of Science, and the 2002 Teaching Prize of the Canadian Association of Physicists. Matthews is a co-founder of and instructor for UBC’s Science 101 course for disadvantaged residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. He was a “Human Library Book” in Surrey, BC where “readers” could reserve him to ask about science or life, and a storyteller at the Kootenay Storytelling Festival in Nelson, BC. Matthews was featured in the Discovery Channel series "Light: More Than Meets The Eye", and the documentary “LUNARCY!” He is a producer and writer for Knowledge (BC’s educational TV network) of Space Suite – a series of astronomy/space ‘music videos’. Matthews was awarded the Canadian Astronomical Society’s Qilak Award for education and outreach in 2016. Qilak is an Inuit word meaning “canopy of the heavens” or the sky overhead.
Interest in exoplanets is trending with the recent discovery of Proxima B, the closest exoplanet to earth yet to be found at a mere 25 trillion miles or 4.2 light years away. It is thought to be a rocky, Earth-sized planet orbiting the nearest star to us: the red dwarf Proxima Centauri.
Admission to the lecture is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For advance tickets call the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644. To subscribe or obtain more information visit okanagansisss.wordpress.com.
Presented jointly by Okanagan College and the Okanagan Science Centre, the Science in Society Speaker Series is sponsored by the Vernon Atrium Hotel and Conference Centre, Starbucks Coffee, Save on Foods, and the Vernon Morning Star.