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The Really Popular Book Club: How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

A fearless young woman from a small African village starts a revolution against an American oil company in this sweeping, inspiring novel from a New York Times bestselling author.

Are we alone in the Universe?

Fri 24 February

Lady Mitchell Hall

Is there intelligent life elsewhere in the universe? If not, does that mean that we humans are utterly alone in creation? Recent technological developments make the discovery of life on other planets almost expected within the coming decades. But most of the inhabited planets we hope to discover may well be populated by no more than alien bacteria. Will that make us feel any less alone? What we really hope to find are aliens with whom we can communicate and hold a conversation. When we ask ,“Are we alone?”, what we really mean is, “Do we have anyone to talk to in the universe?” Our gnawing concern about being isolated in the universe ironically mirrors the situation we face on our own planet. We are proud of the status of human beings as the most intelligent of animals, and indeed the only species with language. But that very uniqueness isolates us from all the other intelligent animals on the planet. Sure, we can communicate with our pet dogs and cats, but we can’t hold a conversation with them. Why not? What is the nature of the barrier between us and dolphins or chimpanzees? Some would say that if we aren’t capable of understanding dolphins and whales, we have no chance of understanding any alien civilisation we encounter. Perhaps we are doomed to galactic isolation, no matter how many alien civilisations exist. However, I believe that we can be more optimistic than that. As we reach out to the stars to seek out new life and new civilisations, now is the time to consider: for what are we actually searching?

Cost: Free

Enquiries and booking

No need to book.

Enquiries: Janet Gibson Website Email: jg323@cam.ac.uk Telephone: 01223-335670


Live Stream

All times

Fri 24 February 5:30PM - 6:30PM


Address: Lady Mitchell Hall
Sidgwick Site
Sidgwick Avenue