“Life in Space”
Word Association: Before listening to the interview, introduce three keywords from the interview, such as “water,” “life,” and “intelligent.” Ask the listeners to brainstorm what comes to their minds when they hear these words. Afterward, they can compare their associations with those mentioned in the interview.
Predict the Discussion: Provide a brief overview of the interview’s topic, which is “the existence of life beyond our solar system.” Ask the listeners to jot down their predictions about what the speakers might discuss or the arguments they may present. This helps them engage with the content and actively think about the topic.
Debate Starter: Present a thought-provoking question to the listeners, such as “Do you think there is intelligent life beyond Earth?” Give them a few minutes to discuss their viewpoints in pairs or small groups. Encourage them to share their thoughts and arguments before listening to the interview. Afterward, discuss how their views align or differ from those expressed in the interview.
Vocabulary and Expressions
discover (verb): find something for the first time, reveal the existence of
– The astronomers were excited to discover a new exoplanet, which could potentially host life beyond our solar system.
speculate (verb): form a theory or conjecture about a subject without firm evidence
– Scientists often speculate about the conditions required for life to exist on distant planets.
postulate (verb): suggest or assume the existence, fact, or truth of something as a basis for reasoning or discussion
– Aubrey postulated that the presence of water on other planets might be an indicator of potential extraterrestrial life.
Listening Comprehension Questions
Now, watch the interview and answer the comprehension questions. You can also turn on the automatically-generated captions for the video once you start it.
Randall: In this video, Aubrey and I are going to be talking about this question: “Does life exist outside of our solar system?” What do you think, Aubrey? What is your thought on this?
Aubrey: Well, I mean, statistically, it’s more than likely that it does. I mean, this question might also be asked, does life exist outside of our planet? And, you know, water is everywhere. And that’s as far as we know, that’s what’s needed for life. So probably everywhere. Now, if we’re talking intelligent life, same thing. I feel like it’s statistically likely that it exists.
Randall: And I think it wasn’t until the early 1990s when the first planet was discovered outside of our solar system. And I think before then people were guessing, hoping, thinking, postulating. But I think you’re right. I do believe that there’s life out there somewhere.
What is the significance of water in the context of life beyond Earth? Do you think it’s a fundamental requirement for life as we know it?
Aubrey mentioned the statistical likelihood of life existing outside of our solar system. What factors contribute to this statistical probability, and how do we calculate it?
Randall mentions the first discovery of exoplanets in the early 1990s. How has the discovery of exoplanets changed our perspective on the potential for extraterrestrial life, and what methods are used to detect these planets?
When we discuss the existence of life beyond our solar system, what kinds of life are we considering? Aubrey briefly mentions intelligent life. Do you think the likelihood of simple or complex life forms differs, and if so, why?
What are some of the key challenges and limitations in our search for extraterrestrial life? Are there any technological advancements or future missions that could enhance our ability to find evidence of life beyond Earth?
How does the concept of the Fermi Paradox come into play when discussing the existence of intelligent life in the universe? Does the vastness of the cosmos make the absence of observable extraterrestrial civilizations a puzzle?
If life is discovered beyond Earth, how might it impact our understanding of life’s origins and evolution on our own planet? Could it change our perspective on the uniqueness of life on Earth?
What ethical and philosophical considerations should we take into account when exploring the possibility of extraterrestrial life? How might such discoveries affect society, culture, and religion?
Are there particular regions or celestial bodies in our solar system or in other star systems that scientists believe are more promising for the search for life? What makes these locations more compelling for exploration?
Given the inherent challenges in space exploration and the vastness of the universe, how important is it for humanity to continue the search for extraterrestrial life? What are the potential benefits and drawbacks of such efforts?
Related Language Activities on Randall’s Web Site
The following activities deal with related topics to give you additional language practice.