In the first half, senior astronomer at SETI, Seth Shostak, talked about his continued work in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, the importance of new planet discoveries, and all things astronomy. The number one reason it's believed there could be life out there, even intelligent life, is "the incredible abundance" of possibilities. The latest estimates indicate that one out of every five or six stars has a planet similar to Earth in a habitable orbit. "That means there's close to 100 billion such planets that might be like our Earth" in our galaxy alone, he marveled.
In April, SETI will mark its 60th anniversary of trying to eavesdrop on alien radio signals. An alternative approach the organization has experimented with involves scanning for flashing lasers. Newer detection systems, he noted, can scan large swaths of the sky for flashing lasers. On the question of UFOs, he expressed doubt that they're extraterrestrial in origin. "If there was something in our airspace other than the thousands and thousands of flights every day," the more than 700 satellites in the sky would pick up definitive images, he commented. Shostak also reported that new rovers to be launched later this year will search on Mars for microbes and evidence of past life.
Founder of World Healing Day and World Tai Chi Day, Bill Douglas has taught meditation to large corporations and medical centers for over 30 years. In the latter half, he detailed how ancient meditative practices have quantifiable global transformative effects, as well as physical and psychological benefits to the individual. One startling meditation study focused on Washington DC, and meditators were said to bring violent crime down by 23%, he reported. Another study found that a meditation program at Folsom Prison lowered violent incident rates not only for the direct participants but for the entire facility population.
Meditation techniques, he explained, usher the brain into alpha states as opposed to the busier beta waves. As you go into these alpha states regularly, "it actually changes the physical structure of the brain," he said, shrinking the stress and fear parts, and enlarging the empathy and compassion areas of the brain. Douglas indicated that meditative practices, which promote empathy and altruism, keep a person's DNA in a more healthful state. He also suggested that a significant percentage of health and medical problems are related to stress, which could be alleviated through mind-body practices.