Carnegie Mellon University
October 25, 2010

Aesthetics for Aliens

Art, Music, and Extraterrestrials

Aesthetics for Aliens

Victor M. Bearg Science and Humanities Scholars Speaker Series

Monday, October 25, 4:30 PM Porter Hall 100 (Gregg Hall)

Douglas Vakoch, Director of Interstellar Message Composition, SETI Institute, and Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology, California Institute of Integral Studies

Do aliens have a sense of beauty? Could they understand ours? From Johannes Kepler’s Music of the Spheres to Hollywood’s alien symphony in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, we have pondered the link between the cosmos and creativity. Today scientists leading the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) point their telescopes toward the stars, seeking evidence of civilizations beyond Earth. If they find a signal from aliens, what should we say in reply? How could we let them know what it’s like to be human? Building on the language of mathematics and science, SETI researcher Dr. Douglas Vakoch shows how we might start telling extraterrestrials about aesthetics on Earth.

Co-sponsored by the Victor M. Bearg Science and Humanities Scholars Speaker Series and the Center for the Arts in Society