The detection of extra-terrestrial life and the consequences for science and society

Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2011 Feb 13;369(1936):499-507. doi: 10.1098/rsta.2010.0236.


Astronomers are now able to detect planets orbiting stars other than the Sun where life may exist, and living generations could see the signatures of extra-terrestrial life being detected. Should it turn out that we are not alone in the Universe, it will fundamentally affect how humanity understands itself--and we need to be prepared for the consequences. A Discussion Meeting held at the Royal Society in London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, on 25-26 January 2010, addressed not only the scientific but also the societal agenda, with presentations covering a large diversity of topics.

Publication types

  • Introductory Journal Article

MeSH terms

  • Exobiology / ethics
  • Exobiology / methods*
  • Politics
  • Science*
  • Social Values*