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Purposeful UniverseMarch 16, 20221 min read

Are We Alone in the Universe? [VIDEO]

Meet Dr. Karin Öberg

Dr. Karin Öberg is a professor of astronomy at Harvard University and founder of The Öberg Astrochemistry Lab. Her research is focused on both the origins of our universe and the search for extraterrestrial life. 

Are We Alone?

For Dr. Oberg, the idea of life elsewhere in the universe is a thrilling possibility. She has spent years studying what makes life possible, and dreams of one day discovering living organisms on an exoplanet. For some, finding extraterrestrial life would make human lives feel small and insignificant. For Dr. Öberg, the opposite is true.

Human Significance

Dr. Öberg possesses a brave and open-minded curiosity about the universe and extraterrestrial life. For her, our ability to wonder, discover and learn is as great a gift as the universe itself. Rather than feeling small compared to the infinite universe, she is enchanted by the possibility of broadening our horizons and deeply grateful for our ability to ask questions and seek the truth.

For more about Dr. Öberg's research and scientific perspective, watch the full video.


Video Transcript

Are we alone as a living planet in the universe?

There is this story of that over time our insignificance have only gotten worse.

I don't think we should worry too much that we discovered that the universe is a little bit bigger than we have once thought.

I think that the thing I'm most excited about in astronomy is trying to figure out how planets form, and what the likelihood is that we can find life elsewhere in the universe.

If I were to dream what the next few decades would hold, it would be that we would find some extraterrestrial bacteria somewhere.

Almost every star has a planet. Hundreds of billions of planets. Even if a small fraction of those have similar conditions to early Earth, that would suggest there are many many places where life could have originated in our galaxy.

It's easy to feel a bit insignificant when you put it like that.

Does this matter for how we should think about our own worth? I would argue that it doesn't.

What matters is that you are fearless in that pursuit and that you keep that obsession for the truth alive.


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Purposeful Universe

The Purposeful Universe seeks to explore and present, through award winning videos, the abundant order in nature that funnels biological systems toward increasing levels of complexity and sophistication—suggesting that human life is the purposeful outcome of a complex, ordered system.