‘Over the moon’ to be in Sheffield

Paul Murdin
Paul Murdin
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Are we alone in the universe?

It’s one of life’s great questions, but astronomer Paul Murdin think he’s got it sussed.

The 71-year-old has dedicated his life to exploring the possibility of extra-terrestrial life in the universe and will appear in Sheffield tonight, as part of the city’s Off The Shelf festival, to give a talk on the subject.

“I believe the materials for intelligent life are everywhere - molecules, chemical elements, the right kind of environments, water, energy,” said Paul.

“But I think even though simple life gets going very easily, there is not the time for it to develop into something more complicated.”

Paul, who has been President of the European Astronomical Society and Director of Science in the British National Space Centre, made a name for himself in 1971 when he discovered the first black hole in the galaxy.

“That was quite a day,” revealed the scientist, who has even had an asteroid named after him.

“I was over the moon, if you’ll forgive the pun, to realise this thing I’d been looking at was a black hole. The discovery came halfway through my research contract and certainly secured my job for a while longer, as well as making me quite famous.”

These days the grandfather-of-four is largely retired, though he still travels a lot, giving talks and writing books on his favourite subject.

“I’m not a sceptic, I’d say I’m an optimist,” he insisted.

“I would like there to be intelligent life out there and I consider us more ‘lonely’ than ‘alone’ in this vast universe. But I’m also a realist and I don’t think we’ll have the satisfaction of talking to other civilisations any time soon.”

Paul will be at the Auditorium, University of Sheffield Students Union, tonight at 7.30pm. In his presentation, ‘Are We Being Watched’, he will talk about how he believes complex life began on Earth, how life might have developed on other planets, what forms it could take and how we might communicate with aliens.