Are we alone in the universe? : NPR

David Biello
David Biello

About the Episode

Are we alone in the universe? This hour, we travel the cosmos with TED science curator David Biello in search of extraterrestrial life, uncovering how it may look and how we’ll know we’ve found it.

About David Biello

David Biello is a science curator at TED.

Previously, Biello was a reporter for Scientific American, where he covered issues related to the environment and energy. He’s also written a book, “The Unnatural World,” about how humans have altered the earth’s climate and what can be done to create a better world for humans and other living things. He has written and hosted science documentary series, including “Beyond the Light Switch” and “The Ethanol Effect.”

Biello earned his bachelor’s from Wesleyan University and his master’s in journalism from Columbia University.

Featured Speakers

John C. Mather: How the James Webb Space Telescope will unfold the universe

Nobel Laureate John C. Mather led the team at NASA that built the James Webb Telescope. He explains how the telescope will observe the first galaxies to form in the early universe and uncover new details about moons in our solar system that could harbor life.

Elizabeth “Zibi” Turtle: What Saturn’s most mysterious moon could teach us about the origins of life

Planetary scientist Elizabeth “Zibi” Turtle shares how studying Saturn’s moon Titan, which is thought to resemble the early Earth, could bring us closer to understanding the habitability of other planets and the origin of life.

Clara Sousa-Silva: The fingerprints of life beyond Earth

Quantum astrochemist Clara Sousa-Silva demonstrates a possible new way to find habitable planets, and shares her research on a poisonous molecule that may signal the presence of life beyond Earth.

Karen J. Meech: The story of ‘Oumuamua, the first visitor from another star system

In 2017, NASA spotted the very first visitor from another star system: a half-mile-long interstellar object that was named `Oumuamua, from the Hawaiian for “messenger.” Astrobiologist Karen J. Meech tells the story of how her team worked to uncover its origins.

Stephen Webb: Where are all the aliens?

The universe is old, gigantic and home to trillions of planets – so where are all the aliens? Astronomer Stephen Webb has an explanation: there aren’t any.

Betül Kaçar: We could kick-start life on another planet. Should we?

Astrobiologist Betül Kaçar’s research uses statistics and mathematical models to simulate ancient environments and study the origins of life. She asks us to ponder: If we could kick-start life in the universe, should we?

This episode of TED Radio Hour was produced by Matthew Cloutier and James Delahoussaye. It was edited by Katie Simon and Manoush Zomorodi. You can follow us on Twitter @TEDRadioHour and email us at

Back To Top