In the midst of the Cold War, a humanoid extraterrestrial named Klaatu and his indestructible robot bodyguard Gort visit Earth in order to make first contact with its civilization. After a botched initial encounter that leaves the alien visitor in the hospital and several tanks disintegrated by his protector, Klaatu is forced to go incognito under the alias John Carpenter in order to intimately experience the lives of several area residents. At once a thinly veiled religious allegory and one of the most progressive pieces of science-fiction of its time, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL's humanistic message is as valuable and necessary today as it was at the height of that previously tense moment in American history.
SPEAKER: Dr. Steve B. Howell, head of the Space Sciences and Astrobiology Division at the NASA Ames Research Center
TOPIC: WWKD: What Would Klaatu Do? Astrobiologist Steve Howell considers modern humanity through the eyes of the first extraterrestrial visitors and speaks about the current search for life beyond Earth.
About the speaker: Dr. Steve B. Howell heads the Space Sciences and Astrobiology Division at the NASA Ames Research Center following his success as project scientist of both the Kepler and K2 missions. He received his PhD in astrophysics at the University of Amsterdam and has over 900 scientific publications spanning research on variable stars, instrumentation, spectroscopy, and exoplanets. Howell has written or contributed to numerous scientific books, and his textbook on digital imaging detectors (CCDs) is the standard in college courses around the world. Working as the scientist in charge of the planet-hunting Kepler mission inspired the creation of A Kepler's Dozen, a collection of short stories about real exoplanets, including his first science fiction work. A frequent speaker at scientific conferences and public forums, Howell has a passion for sharing astronomy with people throughout the world.