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Marcus Chown & Dimitar Sasselov

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Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 9:00pm

Tonight on Inquiry we welcome back cosmologist, writer, science consultant and broadcaster MARCUS CHOWN. His new eye-popping book is SOLAR SYSTEM: A VISUAL EXPLORATION OF THE PLANTS, MOONS, AND OTHER HEAVENLY BODIES THAT ORBIT OUR SUN, a book based on the popular app for the  iPad,  Tune in tonight as explore the weird and wild moons of Jupiter and Saturn. We also will learn why Pluto was downgraded to a mere dwarf planet and take a mind-blowing trip descending through the atmosphere of Jupiter. “The great thing about the solar system is that it continually confounds our expectations.”

As soon as the first extra-solar planets were discovered, the race was on to find plants around other suns that could support life. Tonight on Inquiry, we have a conversation with DIMITAR SASSELOV, Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University and Founder and Director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative. Professor Sasselov on the forefront of this exciting search for “super earths”: giant earth-like planets orbiting distant stars. So how do you find these planets when they are so distant from earth? How can we tell what these planets are like and whether there is water on them? This amazing search for a twin earth has also led some scientists to a profound re-thinking of the role of life in the universe. Perhaps life is just another typical cosmic process. Earth is not the “cradle of life” but the planet and life are one. Professor Sasselov’s thought-provoking book is titled: THE LIFE OF THE SUPER-EARTHS: HOW THE HUNT FOR ALIEN WORLDS AND ARTIFICIAL CELLS WILL REVOLUTIONIZE LIFE ON OUR PLANET.

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