Whale Song & Alien Intelligence with Dr. Laurance Doyle and Dr. Fred Sharpe (podcast)

By Templeton Staff
July 18, 2021
Researchers investigate humpback whales’ complex, long-distance communication with the aim of learning about how extraterrestrial intelligences, if they exist, might attempt to transmit their messages through the cosmos.

Nearly two decades ago, Dr. Fred Sharpe, an expert in humpback whales and the Principal Investigator with the Alaska Whale Foundation, received an unexpected phone call. It was Dr. Laurance Doyle, an astrophysicist specializing in alien intelligence at Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, calling with a big idea: What if studying humpback whale song could reveal something about the way aliens might be trying to communicate with humans?

Today Drs. Sharpe and Doyle are investigating humpback whales’ complex, long-distance communication with the aim of learning about how alien intelligences if they exist, might attempt to transmit their messages through the cosmos.

Learning to understand the language, or the song, of the whales, might someday lead us to understand the language of the extraterrestrial intelligence — communication that comes to us through the cosmos, which might even lead to a better understanding of ourselves.

This podcast is a 2020 MarCom Awards Gold Winner.

Discover the video version of this interview.

Learn more about TWCF-funded research projects related to this episode: here and here

Read the transcript from the interview conducted by journalist Richard Sergay, presented by podcast producer Tavia Gilbert. Featuring: Dr. Laurance Doyle, an astrophysicist and research scientist at Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute; Dr. Fred Sharpe, an expert in humpback whales and the Principal Investigator with the Alaska Whale Foundation.


Built upon the award-winning video series of the same name, Templeton World Charity Foundation’s “Stories of Impact” podcast features stories of new scientific research on human flourishing that translate discoveries into practical tools. Bringing a mix of curiosity, compassion, and creativity, journalist Richard Sergay and host Tavia Gilbert shine a spotlight on the human impact at the heart of cutting-edge social and scientific research projects supported by TWCF.

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