Are we alone in the Universe?

7.00pm to 8.30pm, Tuesday 23 April

The Theatre

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has already taken place

  • Credit: European Southern Observatory


Standard £16


Concession £10


Ri Members and Ri Patrons £7

Event description

Have we been visited before? Are they out there watching… listening… studying us? Brad Gibson will examine the evidence for and against the existence of extraterrestrial life, and walk you through the associated good, bad, and ugly corners of our Galaxy.

About the speaker

Professor Brad Gibson is the Head of Physics and Director of the E.A. Milne Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Hull. Brad completed his MSc and PhD at the University of British Columbia, building the world's first Liquid Mirror Telescope Observatory and designing software to map the distribution of the chemical elements throughout the Universe. Brad was responsible for using exploding stars to determine the expansion rate of the Universe, as part of the Hubble Space Telescope Key Project on the Extragalactic Distance Scale, for which the team was awarded the Gruber Prize in Cosmology. He was the first to identify the locations within the Milky Way most likely to harbour complex biological life, for which his work was named by National Geographic magazine as one of the top 10 news stories of the year.  

Brad's work has been acknowledged by his peers 20,000 times, making him Hull's most cited academic, and one of the top few percent in the world. Over the past two years, Brad has been responsible for doubling the number of women entering physics at the University, as part of his commitment to widening participation and gender diversity in science; his outreach and engagement programmes have reached more than 400,000 people, including students at more than 50 schools around the country.  His outreach efforts led to him being named the Institute of Physics’ John Porter Memorial Lecturer, the 2019 Bexwyke Lecturer, and the 2019 Leon Davies Lecturer; he has spoken at the Cheltenham Science Festival, the British Science Festival, opened for Brian Cox and Lucy Hawking at European AstroFest, and delivered a highly popular TED talk on the subject of the search for alien life.


The doors will open at approximately 6.30pm, with a prompt start at 7.00pm.

Latecomers will be admitted to the gallery.


The theatre is on the first floor and there is step-free access from the street via lift.

The closest underground station is Green Park, which is step-free.

There is space at floor level in the theatre for wheelchair users.

Seating is usually unreserved for our events. If you and your group require seating reservations, please do let us know by email and we’ll be more than happy to help. Email:

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Our theatre is equipped with an Audio Induction Loop.  

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