National Centre of Competence in Research PlanetS
Gesellschaftsstrasse 6 | CH-3012 Bern | Switzerland
  Tel. +41 (0)31 631 32 39

Lichtenberg Tim, Mr.

Formation & Evolution, ETH Zürich, Institut für Teilchen- und Astrophysik
PhD Student
8093 Zürich
+41 44 633 61 11 

Please give us a personal quote or a quote of a famous person (e.g. of Albert Einstein) that describes you and your life/work.
“You must not depend on understanding your art only by studying the one art with which you are involved. It is difficult to understand the universe if you study only one planet. One must be aware of all of the arts by becoming familiar with many of them as part of one’s complete devotion to one of them.” (M. Musashi, translation by S. Kaufman)

Please describe your job in only one sentence and tell us what the most important goal of this work is.
I am trying to understand which physical and chemical processes are the most fundamental ones to shape the formation and long-term evolution of terrestrial planets. In one question: How do you build a ‘habitable’ world with clement surface conditions versus how to build a world with hellish conditions like Venus or lava planets such as 55 Cancri e?

How did you get into this research/work field?
During school and my physics bachelor studies I got fascinated by the philosophical consequences of the detections of extrasolar planets for humanity. I decided that I want to be a part of this exciting and inspiring adventure and so I focused on astrophysics and planetary sciences during my bachelor and master studies and afterwards applied for graduate study positions related to planet formation. And here I am.

What would be the greatest discovery you would like to see in your life time?
The development of an artificial general intelligence – or strong AI. That would certainly be a turning point for our technological civilisation and humanity as a whole, but accompanied by many difficult and tenuous ethical questions. Though, definite proof for extraterrestrial biology would be great, too. 😉

You work for the NCCR PlanetS. What do you think will the NCCR enable you to do you couldn’t do without it?
It connects me regularly to the large Swiss-wide research network of planetary sciences and brings me in contact with many inspiring scientists working on a diverse set of problems related to planets. I really think the PlanetS initiative connects the Swiss-wide planet community on a whole new level and enables many interactions and collaborations that would not be possible without it.

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