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Public Lecture by internationally acclaimed astrophysicist at DUT

Public Lecture by internationally acclaimed astrophysicist at DUT


Media Statement by Sinegugu Ndlovu, Communications Manager at the Durban University of Technology

The question of whether life exists on other planets, other solar systems, other galaxies has generated considerable interest in recent years.

And if experiments supported by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) support the belief of the existence of extraterrestrial life, then it could exist.

The Durban University of Technology will host a public lecture by internationally acclaimed astrophysicist Professor Jayant Narlikar titled: Searches for Alien Microlife in the Earth’s Atmosphere. The lecture will be held at 13h00 on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at the University’s Steve Biko Campus Library (LC 011).

Prof Narlikar headed a series of experiments by ISRO where payloads attached to balloons were flown up to heights of 41 km to sample air. The flights led to remarkable discoveries of cells and bacteria. These experiments will be the focus of Prof Narlikar’s lecture.

“The question is, can we definitely assert that they (cells and bacteria) are coming from outside as Hoyle and Wickramasinghe claimed. Astronomers argue that our sun is one amongst many stars in the galaxy, and that it (the galaxy) is one amongst many in the universe. The DNA based life that we know here on the Earth is made of many complex organic molecules and since the 1960s; we are finding them amongst many others in the giant molecular clouds in our Milky Way Galaxy. A further support for belief in extraterrestrial life was provided when extra-solar planets began to be discovered. Today more than 500 such planets are known. Encouraged by these facts, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence programme seeks to look for life in our stellar neighbourhood by sending radio messages with technical information. If we get a reply, this will prove the existence of progressive life in the universe. Side by side, it is worth examining if life in elementary form like bacteria, viruses or cells exists on our door-step,” said Prof Narlikar.

Prof Narlikar, Emeritus Professor at Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) Ganeshkhind, Pune University, India, is internationally known for his work in cosmology. He is known for championing models alternative to the popularly believed big bang model. His work has been on the frontiers of gravity and Mach’s Principle, quantum cosmology and action at a distance physics. He has received several national and international awards as well as honorary doctorates, including one from the erstwhile University of Natal. He is also an author of science fiction.

Since 1999, he has been heading ISRO’s international team, breaking new ground in space research.

A picture of Professor Jayant Narlikar is available on request from Sinegugu Ndlovu.

The event will take place as follows:

Date: Tuesday August 13, 2013.
Time: 13h00 to 14h00
Place: DUT Steve Biko Campus Library (LC 011)

Issued by:

Sinegugu Ndlovu
Manager: Communications
Botanic Mansion
Division of Corporate Affairs
Steve Biko Campus
Gate 1

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