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By Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer, Director of SETI Research

Originally published on

Expedia's galaxy-wide website must be offering Earth at a major discount. In one movie after another, aliens decide to pass up competing Milky Way attractions -- including neutron stars, antimatter clouds, hot Jupiters, and a 4 billion-trillion-trillion-ton central black hole -- in favor of our planet. The small speck of rock we inhabit is more popular with tourists than Disneyland.

Universe 2014: Beyond Earth: Planets, Life, and Intelligence in the Cosmos
An Afternoon of Science & Scientific Speculation
Sponsored by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
(part of the Society’s Annual Meeting)
Sunday, August 3, 2014, 1:30 to 5:30 pm
Regency Ballroom, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Burlingame, CA
Free, with a suggested donation of $10 per person

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA—A panel of NASA experts will convene on Monday, July 14, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. EDT to map out the technological and scientific pathway that will lead to the detection of potentially habitable exoplanets. The public can view the event on NASA Television or in the Webb Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street SW, Washington, D.C.