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Planets aren’t rare. Life is surprisingly durable. The more we’ve learned about the Universe, the more the search for extraterrestrial life has shifted from science fiction to serious scientific undertaking. So it’s worth considering how humanity would react if we learned, through some distant but unmistakable signal, that lifeforms elsewhere in the Universe were communicating with us. In this interview, Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the Center for SETI Research in California, discusses how first contact is more likely to be perspective-shifting than Earth-shattering.
Producer: Marco Patricio
Director: Stuart Langfield
Design and fashion
The mundane becomes mesmerising in this deep dive into segmented displays
A song of ice, fire and jelly – exploring the physics and history of the trumpet
Tour the European architecture that dreamed of a wondrous, fictitious China
Trek alongside spiritual pilgrims on a treacherous journey across Pakistan
Thinkers and theories
Photographs offer a colonialist window to the past – one that must be challenged
Animals and humans
An artist and ants collaborate on an exhibit of ‘tiny Abstract Expressionist paintings’
How a curious question about colouring maps changed mathematics forever
The rise and fall of Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong’s infamous urban monolith
A dreamy tribute to the music of Brian Eno, rendered in paint, soap and water