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Matthew Sweet talks to cosmologist and astrobiologist Paul Davies about the possible existence of extra-terrestrial life on other planets, and his controversial views on religion.

As part of Night Waves year of programme-length interviews with leading scientists, Matthew Sweet will be asking: Is there anyone out there - and if there is, what on earth will we do when we find out?

Matthew is in extended conversation with the leading cosmologist and astrobiologist Paul Davies, whose specialism is the detection of extra-terrestrial life and the consequences for science and society. Davies is one of Britain's leading popularisers of science, but he's also a controversialist whose work takes him to essence of what it is to be human: "I like to ponder the big questions of existence" he says, "How did the universe begin? What is the destiny of mankind? Is there a meaning to the universe". And fittingly Davies is currently head of Beyond: Center for Fundamental Questions in Science in Arizona.

Matthew will be asking Paul Davies to delve into the intriguing question of what is known as "First Contact" with alien life, and why scientists continue to believe in its importance. Davies own books include "Are We Alone?" and most recently "The Eerie Silence". And Matthew will be pressing him on his more controversial forays into religion, which have seen some fellow scientists accuse him of a kind of theism. At a time of such acrimonious disputes between atheists and believers, can scientists like Davies really comfortably tackle this issue with book titles such as "The Mind of God?"

Broadcast to coincide with the BBC's World of Wonder, year of science programmes - Night Waves is dedicating one programme each month to a 45 minute interview with a leading scientist.

Producer Fiona McLean.

45 minutes

Broadcast

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