During the middle two hours of the program, professor of Physics at the University of Michigan, Dr. Katherine Freese, discussed her work in theoretical cosmology and the latest developments in our understanding of the Big Bang, dark matter, dark energy, and the nature of the universe. She argued that searching for answers to these 'big questions' about our world is important on two levels. First, Freese said, it helps to satisfy the basic human curiosity about our surroundings that can be credited with having driven the intellectual evolution of the species. Additionally, she suggested that "accidental discoveries may come out of this research" which could greatly benefit the human race in an inadvertent way, such has how the World Wide Web was actually originally created as a data-sharing network for CERN scientists.
Regarding the origins of the universe, Freese noted that much of the debate over the nature of the Big Bang appears to be settled. "The basic picture, we've really nailed that," she said, "but, boy, we have a lot to learn about what the universe is made of." To that end, she explained that science remains vexed by the two predominate forces which comprise 95% of the contents of the universe: dark matter and dark energy. According to Freese, the promising work being done at CERN, and at other labs around the world, has created optimism in the scientific community that it will soon be able to unlock the secrets of dark matter. However, she acknowledged that dark energy remains "a real puzzler" and that "we don't even know where to begin. At the moment, it's just a label for something we don't know very well."
NASA's Search for ETs
In the first hour, UFO researcher Paola Harris shared her thoughts on the NASA news conference concerning the search for alien life. She expressed dismay that the space agency proposed that it is humanity's responsibility to find ETs rather than acknowledging the possibility that alien life has already visited here. She also lamented that, during the conference, NASA scientists theorized that it could take another 20 years before ETs are discovered by humans, which is a timetable she found both frustrating and laughable. Citing the vast amount of evidence surrounding the UFO enigma, Harris declared that "it isn't so much that they're going to find life on other planets. Life on other planets is visiting us ... period."
Lunar Aliens & the 'Wow!' Signal
In the final hour, paranormal investigator Joshua P. Warren talked about his role in the upcoming SyFy documentary 'Aliens on the Moon' as well as the infamous 'Wow!' signal from August of 1977. In previewing the SyFy film, Warren contended that the very limited atmosphere of the moon makes it an ideal candidate for finding possible ET artifacts and evidence, since such material could have been preserved there for thousands of years. Regarding the 'Wow!' signal, Warren announced that, on August 15th, he will be broadcasting a message into space from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico to mark the anniversary of the event. The communication, he said, will consist of a minute long recording that will be replayed for an hour and asked George to be the voice of this message to ETs that will be beamed into space next month.
With an eye on the future of American spaceflight, US Defense agency DARPA has awarded contracts to three aerospace companies for the design of their Experimental Spaceplane Project (seen here in an artist's conceptual drawing). The goal of the project, dubbed XS-1, is the creation of a robotic spaceplane which will be capable of making frequent trips into space while carrying large amounts of cargo at a relatively inexpensive cost. More on the story at Space.com.