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Friday, June 2, 2023

“At the dawn of new horizons”, Nathalie Cabrol raises the question of extraterrestrial life

The question “Are we alone? » has been tormenting the human species since it grasped the immensity of the Universe. Statistically, it’s unlikely. But having said that, where should we look? We can then follow the astrobiologist Nathalie Cabrol. This Franco-American scientist, who has worked for NASA since 1998 and in 2015 took the helm of the Carl Sagan Research Center at the Seti Institute (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) in California, had already raised the issue in her previous work, Journey to the frontiers of life (Seuil, 2021), which had revealed her talent as an explorer of extreme environments and as a popularizer. She continues her approach here by asking the question of new horizons.

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At a time when the benefits and risks of artificial intelligence are being debated, a return to good old natural thinking feels good. This is undoubtedly what explains in large part the success of this essay, which has been at the top of sales for weeks to come close to 25,000 copies, in other words infinity for a serious scientific book. “Even if today we still don’t really know where this quest is taking us, and what exactly we are looking for, that’s not what matters. The answers will present themselves as we move forward. The important thing is that we are on the way, both actors and spectators of the most extraordinary odyssey ever undertaken by humanity. We are in search of our origins and of a cosmic echo which one day, finally, will reveal to us that we are not alone in the Universe. » It remains to be seen with whom.

Traveling through this kind of space that intrigues us, Nathalie Cabrol explains that we are at the dawn of prodigious discoveries, in particular thanks to the information provided by the James-Webb space telescope.

Heiress of Hubert Reeves

The exploration of the Solar System, the search for exoplanets and that of extraterrestrial signals are accomplished with the idea that “the absence of proof is not the proof of absence”. In her way of approaching science, making it understood and explaining the responsible issues for today and tomorrow, Nathalie Cabrol is the worthy heiress of a Hubert Reeves. With her, the sidereal is staggering.

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