The contact paradox

6.30pm to 8.00pm, Friday 22 November

The Theatre

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

This event has already taken place

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Standard £16


Concession £10


Ri Members and Ri Patrons £7

Event description

For the past six decades a small cadre of researchers have been on a quest to find out, as part of SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. So far, SETI has found no evidence of extraterrestrial life, but with more than a hundred billion stars in our Galaxy alone to search, the odds of quick success are stacked against us.

Keith Cooper explores how far SETI has come since its modest beginnings, where it's going and the assumptions that we make in our search for extraterrestrial life.

Please note that this event starts earlier than normal at 6.30pm. 

About the speaker

Keith Cooper is a freelance science journalist and editor. Since 2006 Keith has been the Editor of Astronomy Now, and he is also the Editor of Astrobiology Magazine. In addition he has written on numerous space- and physics-related topics, from exploding stars to quantum computers, for Centauri Dreams, New Scientist, Physics World, and Sky and Telescope. He holds a BSc in Physics with Astrophysics from the University of Manchester.  


The doors will open at approximately 6.00pm, with a prompt start at 6.30pm. There will be time for questions after the talk.

Latecomers will be admitted ot the gallery.


This event will be filmed and on the Ri's YouTube channel within a few months. Subscribe for free to hear when new videos are released.

Book signing

Copies of Keith's book, 'The Contact Paradox: Challenging our Assumptions in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence' will be available for purchase and signing after the talk. 


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:

Carers can receive a free ticket to an event by emailing

Our theatre is equipped with an Audio Induction Loop. 

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