The first lecture of "INQUIRIES OF HEAVEN" forum of Tsinghua University Public Lecture series, "Exoplanets & Extraterrestrial Life", took place in the auditorium of Tsinghua University on the evening of November 15, 2019, as scheduled. Prof. LIN Chao, a famous astrophysicist, Prof. ZHU Ting, School of life, Tsinghua University, and MS. HAO Jingfang, a popular science fiction writer who won the Hugo Award, were invited as guests. Prof. MAO Shude, head of the Department of Astronomy, Tsinghua University, was the host. Although the weather was cold, the atmosphere was very active. More than 500 people attended the lecture, and more than 3800 people listened to the lecture online through the live network platform.
Prof. MAO Shude first thanked Qibin foundation for its strong support for this event, and invited Prof. Gerhard Boerner, a good friend of Mr. LI Qibin, a German astrophysicist, to give us a brief introduction of Mr. LI Qibin.
Under the guidance of the host and three guests, We began to yearn for extraterrestrial planets and possible life. In his speech, Prof. LIN Chao said, "do you believe that extraterrestrial life exists?" and "do you know that extraterrestrial life exists?". These two problems lead us to think about extraterrestrial life. Then to the guests, and discussed with them about the definition of biology, Fermi paradox, science fiction and scientific research, etc. Prof. LIN Chao, from the perspective of an astrophysicist, used the current observation results to speculate on extraterrestrial life, such as the recently discovered interstellar asteroid, Oumuamua. Prof. ZHU ting used mirror biology and molecular chirality to prove the particularity of life on earth, and made some explanations for the definition of life now. Ms. HAO Jingfang, a graduate of THCA, who played the imagination of science fiction writers, put forward many interesting conjectures.
When talking about the relationship between scientific research and science fiction, Ms. HAO Jingfang thought that her experience of studying in THCA had a great help to science fiction writing. It was the confusion accumulated at that time that made her have a lot of creative inspiration; Prof. ZHU Ting showed that science fiction was very helpful to scientific research, and he would also write science fiction in his spare time; Prof. LIN Chao also revealed that his interest in Astrophysics was generated with the help of science fiction. In some ways, scientists and science fiction writers are totally different. Scientists should be strict in everything and should not make unreasonable guesses. Science fiction writers can guess at will to make their science fiction work more interesting. On the other hand, scientists and science fiction writers are the same. They are both curious about the unknown, and have a common good expectation for the future of mankind.
The collision between astronomers, biologists and science fiction writers made the audience enjoy a feast of ideas.
In the interactive Q & A session, the audience actively interacted with the three guests and hosts on "the feasibility of interdisciplinary subjects such as astrobiology" and "what needs to be done to prepare for becoming an astronomer" in a lovely atmosphere.