I don’t think we are almost imaginative or creative enough to understand what they might be like. We’re inevitably conditioned by the culture… I’ve read science fiction, I love movies, Star Wars, Star Trek… But they sort of acculturate us to think anthropocentrically, we tend to think of life that’s a little bit like us, or a lot like us.
And the truth is life could be so strange we might not recognise it. Certainly strange enough that we might not have real communication with it. So when you ask how strange life might be in the universe – I don’t think we know how to answer that question. And thatâ’s actually quite exciting.
I like the idea that we’re not it. I like the idea that the universe - the boundless possibility of 20 billion habitable worlds â- has led to things that we can barely imagine. I think it’s fun because it means your science is not self-contained and finite; it means that you have to really go way out of the box, even to imagine what astrobiology elsewhere might be like.
Get the full interview here