In April 2010, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion of astronomers who are searching for planets orbiting other stars, with the hope of eventually finding earth-like planets. The panel, called "Quest for a Living World", was held in Pasadena (sponsored by Discover Magazine, the Thirty Meter Telescope project, and Caltech). We talked about the technology being used to look for planets, how the science is progressing, and even how we look for signs of life.
The video from the panel is now available:
Watching it again I was struck by how young these scientists are. They have not only their whole careers ahead of them, but also an entirely new field of science they're exploring: exoplanetary science. Think of it! For thousands of years we wondered if there were other worlds out there like ours, or even unlike ours. Now we not only have answers to that question, but we're actually learning about the physics of these worlds, their chemistry... and who knows? In a few years, we may even be investigating their biospheres.