SG – The Sounds of Interstellar Space: In Search of Alien Life

Is there any life out there? We open this academic year with musical trio TRIFID and paleontologist Rob van den Berg. Hop on for a musical journey to Mars!

Organised by Studium Generale, Studium Generale

Tue 7 September 2021 20:00

Venue Impulse, building number 115

About The Sounds of Interstellar Space: In Search of Alien Life 

Imagine yourself locked up in a spaceship, travelling through outer space. Everywhere you gaze, you are surrounded by the stars. At some point, Mars comes in view. Looking back, you get a glimpse of Planet Earth and the Moon. What do you see, hear, feel? Is there anything out there? Is it life? Is it anything like life on Earth? Tonight, we open the new academic year by tapping into these big questions in a very special way. Come listen to musical trio TRIFID, the beautifully eerie sound of accordion, double bass and vibraphone. TRIFID will perform their Sounds of Interstellar Space, a musical interpretation of space, where there is no sound, based on the magnetic waves picked up during NASA and ESA missions. In engaging dialogue with the extensive knowledge of paleontologist and former Space Expo director Rob van den Berg, they will guide you through the miracle that is our universe. Hop on for a musical journey into outer space! 

About series ‘Life on Mars’

Would you like to live on Mars? For ages, humans have been fascinated with outer space, imagining and investigating what the stars and planets might teach us about the origin of our universe, the conditions of life, the existence of alien life and travelling and living out there. In a century or so, it seems likely that we will reach and be able to live upon the planet closest by: Mars. Already, rovers from different nations are on Mars to discover whether there is or was life, and whether we could live there. The exploration of Mars, however, is not only a pursuit out of scientific curiosity, but it is meshed up with dreams of pioneering new worlds, geopolitical motives and commercial interests, worries about our survival, and awareness of Earth’s beauty, and its vulnerability. As much as it is a perspective beyond Earth, Mars research invites us to look back upon it. In this series we explore some of the layers of the mission to discover life, and what it's like to live, on Mars. What makes it such a fascinating, mind-blowing endeavor? What insights can we gather from Mars research, also for our lives here on Earth? Or does a focus on Mars distract us from more pressing matters here? Should we go there? And who will be, and will not be, going to Mars?


TRIFID (Photo: Merlijn Doomernik)
TRIFID (Photo: Merlijn Doomernik)

TRIFID is a musical trio that originated in 2016 when three musicians (Rik Cornelissen, Vincent Houdijk and Maciej Domaradzki) felt the urge to combine and confront the sound of, respectively, accordion, vibraphone, and double bass. TRIFID is named after a part of the Milky Way, the Trifid Nebula, a young energy field that continually moves and changes, and shines brightly and colorfully from Earth's perspective. This dynamism is reflected in TRIFID's mysterious and lyrical sound, at the crossroads of minimalism, improvisation, jazz and tango. In 2019, TRIFID started touring its composition Sounds of Interstellar Space, cooperating with scientists and performing at observatories, planetariums, museums and universities across the Netherlands. Get a first impression.

About Rob van den Berg

Rob van den Berg
Rob van den Berg

Rob van den Berg has been fascinated by dinosaurs and the cosmos since his childhood. After studying paleontology and a short career in IT, he became head of Expositions and Education at Museon in The Hague. His love for the cosmos and space travel came to full fruition when he became director of Space Expo in Noordwijk and was able to acquire the capsule in which Dutch astronaut André Kuipers flew to the ISS. Currently, Van den Berg works as head of Collection Management at Museum Naturalis in Leiden, where he is responsible for its enormous natural history collection. His biggest dream is the coming together of paleontology and space when we will finally discover fossils of alien life on Mars.

Registration Instructions

Registration for Live Attendance in Impulse (on-campus):

  • Seating is limited due to the live in person maximum admittance for this venue. Priority is given to WUR students.
  • To register for a single seat at this activity send an email to It is not possible to register for someone else. Subject: Seat registration + Title and date of the event.
  • You will receive an email at the latest in the lunch hour on the day of the event confirming your admittance to the live event and giving you further instructions and essential information. Know that your registration is not transferable. Should you develop symptoms or encounter circumstances requiring your cancellation, please send an email to preferably before 16.00 on the day of the event, so we can give your seat to someone on the waiting list.