SPEAKER 1: So welcome everyone, to for me personally a dream come true. That is the opportunity here at Cornell to step into the footsteps of one of the giants in the field that of course you all know, Carl Sagan, who started this question a long time ago, whether or not there be life in the universe, and how we can actually use that knowledge to safeguard our own planet as well. And what we're bringing together here at Cornell, a university that is very used, and very supportive to interdisciplinary collaborations, where you can actually walk across the corridor and talk to somebody who's not in your field, and have a great discussion over a cup of coffee, or not, about the newest breakthroughs.
What we're bringing together is expertise from astronomy, planetary science, our own solar system, earth models, how our own Earth works and might be developing in the future, chemistry, biology, and engineering on how we will be able to measure these small signs of life on worlds that are not our own. And all of this puts the question out, how do you figure out if a world, whether it's within our own solar system, orbiting our own sun, or orbiting another sun, is a habitable place?
And I think we're in for an amazing amount of surprises. We have found thousands of worlds already. And you'll hear from the pioneers in this field how they actually went and figured out how you could take the instruments we had at the time and find these first couple of worlds that show that we can do it. Because we're living in the time, the first time in history, that we have the tools to measure and find such other worlds. And we're getting to the point with the next generation of big telescope that we're building, in five to ten years, whether they're in space or on the ground, to for the first time look at the air of small rocky planets out there, trying to figure out how unique we are, and if life is something that is abundant in the cosmos or not.
I want to thank everybody who made it out here on a beautiful Saturday. And I wanted to thank everybody who made this possible, from our College of Arts and Science, who has been a very strong supporter about this idea, on the history, based on the history that Cornell is supporting a very interdisciplinary approach to problems, to the President, who unfortunately couldn't make it today. And of course, the people who came here from all over the world to share with you the most exciting discoveries, and also what the next steps are.
And I want to single out another person that I met through this endeavor. I've only been here since September, and I'm very proud to say I survived the first winter. But I want to single out Ann Druyan who's going to give the first talk of this series. Because we're thinking about putting this together, and of course, Carl Sagan inspired generations of scientists and engineer, not only here at Cornell, but all over the world. But it was really not only Carl Sagan who did that. Because Ann Druyan is the co-writer and producer of the Cosmos Series, as well as the co-writer of a lot of the books. And she has gone on to inspire the next generation.
And I do have to say, when Ann came into my office, and she was saying, so what are you doing? I was like, well, this is the students, this is the science, this is what we do here. And then Ann was just like there, and she was like, I love this idea. And I think, in that moment in time, you've inspired all of my students. So thank you very much, they will not go to black holes anymore. With that, and no further ado, I would like to introduce Gretchen Ritter, the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts and Science, who will also add her welcome to my words.
And thank you all for coming. You're going to be in for a treat, because having these people come together and share not only their amazing discoveries, but also what it was like at that point in time where we didn't know other worlds existed. And then all of a sudden, our perception of our place in the universe changed. And they will take you today with them on this journey. Thank you very much.
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Lisa Kaltenegger, associate professor of astronomy and director of the Carl Sagan Institute, introduces the institute and its vision on May 9, 2015.
The inauguration event, "(un)Discovered Worlds," featured a day of public talks given by leading scientists and renowned astronomy pioneers.