Joe Zoller teaches physics.
What are your favorite aspects of astronomy?
I love the concept of the nature of the universe. How did it all come together? What’s out there? It’s so interesting when you get into massive stars and black holes, where all laws of physics completely change.
What are your thoughts on space exploration?
I’ve always wondered how technology and science will develop as we try to get to Mars. The biggest thing we got out of the NASA program back in the sixties and seventies was new technology. Computers, bottled water, granola bars, modern-day blue jeans, gym shoes — the vast majority of our everyday luxuries were created as an offshoot from when we were trying to reach the moon. Even if we never make it to Mars, there’s going to be significant benefits from just that process of trying to get there.
Do you believe in extraterrestrial life?
Yes, but maybe not in the way that other people think of extraterrestrial life. I think that there’s a very strong likelihood that there are living organisms on other planets somewhere in our universe, but I have no reason to believe that they would look any differently than we do. Whether you believe in a living God who put us here, or you believe we developed from evolutionary processes, there’s no reason to believe that things would be any different on some other planet.