Lee Billings on Five Billion Years of Solitude | Tantorious

Tantorious is a monthly podcast series featuring interviews with well-known authors, hosted by Allan Hoving and presented by Tantor Audio.


Lee Billings is a science writer whose work has appeared in Scientific American, New Scientist, and Popular Mechanics, among other publications. His new book, Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars, is an intimate history of Earth and the quest for life beyond the solar system.



Excerpts from the audio interview:

Q: How did you get interested in this subject?

A: I’ve been interested in science since I was a boy, but I found I was not particularly good at it. So I started writing about scientists instead. In 2007, I was interviewing an astronomer who said we were finding hundreds and hundreds of potentially habitable planets. I got really excited and decided to write this book.

Q: Will we find life elsewhere, and if so when?

A: I’m not really sure we’re ever going to do it. It’s within our capabilities — if we put our minds to it, made the investment, if we really cared. But there’s a big disconnect between what’s possible, and what our priorities seem to be, what we value. I’ve gotten a little discouraged about it. We may not live to see it.

Listen to a sample of the Tantor audiobook edition of Five Billion Years of Solitude, narrated by Lee Billings.

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