The term "informational panel" doesn't sound very exciting. But call that informational panel's topic "The Quest for a Living World" and put a bunch of "planet hunters" on that panel -- now you have something.
The panel, which includes author-blogger Phil Plait, Caltech's John A. Johnson, Berkeley professor Gibor Basri, MIT professor Sara Seager and Tori Hoehler of NASA, will meet Wednesday night at Caltech. They'll talk about the search for planets similar to Earth -- planets capable of sustaining life.
Here's an excerpt from Caltech's website:
Astronomers have found more than 400 alien worlds orbiting distant stars. So far, nearly all of these exoplanets are bigger than Jupiter and hotter than Mercury – places that appear very unfriendly to life. But astronomers are now starting to identify smaller, more intriguing objects, including potential water worlds and so-called super-Earths. Next-generation telescopes may soon close in on the ultimate goal: Finding alien planets that resemble Earth and may share the same wet, warm cocktail of chemicals that gave rise to life here.
Super-Earths? Warm cocktails? Sign us up.
The talk at Caltech's Beckman Auditorium starts at 7:30 p.m. It's free.