Is there life elsewhere in the Universe? How do we detect exoplanets? How do we hope to find life on exoplanets light-years away? What is "TRAPPIST-1"? What do exoplanets tell us about the famous "Fermi's Paradox"?
The Copernican Revolution taught us that our Earth, far from being the center of the Universe, is only one among the many planets orbiting the Sun, which is itself similar in every respect to the stars lining the celestial vault. Later, astronomy revealed that there are hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way, our galaxy, and that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in our expanding Universe. Faced with such immensity, it is very tempting to hypothesize the existence of other inhabited planets out there, and even of other advanced civilizations. Long confined to speculations, the existence of exoplanets, i.e. planets in orbit around other stars than the Sun, became a proven fact at the end of last century. Since then, more than 4000 exoplanets have been detected at an ever-accelerating pace. A few dozens of these are “potentially habitable”, i.e. they could be rocky worlds harboring oceans of water on their surface, like our Earth. Imagining complex forms of life on some of these planets is but a small step away, one that is happily crossed by science-fiction. But our imagination will eventually be replaced by real scientific measurements, as upcoming giant telescopes will soon be able to probe the atmospheric compositions of some of these extrasolar worlds, and, who knows, to reveal chemical traces of life out there. If so, our view of the Cosmos will change forever.
All this inspired Benjamin Glorieux to create a new piece with the string orchestra Bryggen, Vincent Caers (electronics) and Klaas Verpoest (live video). It's premiere was at the Science & Cocktails festival, after a talk about the subject by Michaël Gillon.
Benjamin Glorieux: composition, cello & performance
Vincent Caers: electronics, percussion & performance
Klaas Verpoest: visuals & performance
Bryggen strings: performance