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The Search for Life: The 20 Year Horizon

Saturday, May 31, 2014
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

An interdisciplinary study has grown out of the search for the origins of life, and collaborative plans for the next twenty years of this hunt are underway. Our panel will discuss the potential of three high-tech pieces of equipment: Starshade, a flower-shaped shield to block excess light and reveal distant Earth size planets; TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite that will measure the brightness of roughly 500,000 stars; and the famed James Webb Space Telescope, infrared successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. The technology will advance the research in many areas of the research. In labs, what do chemists hope to cook up in the next twenty years? Thinking about the future has biologists, astronomers, and physicists alike working collaboratively to be ready for what’s on the horizon.

The World Science Festival’s annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival’s premiere public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty and well-informed members of the general public.

This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation. 


Mario LivioAstrophysicist, Author

Dr. Mario Livio is an astrophysicist, a best-selling author, and a popular speaker. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has published more than 400 scientific papers on topics ranging from Dark Energy and cosmology to black holes and extrasolar planets.

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Dimitar SasselovAstronomer

Dimitar Sasselov studies stars and planets at Harvard University, where he is the Phillips Professor of Astronomy. His research explores modes of interaction between light and matter. Sasselov and his team discovered several planets orbiting other stars with novel techniques that he hopes to use to find other planets like Earth.

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Sara SeagerPlanetary Scientist, Physicist

Sara Seager is a planetary scientist and astrophysicist. She has been a pioneer in the vast and unknown world of exoplanets, planets that orbit stars other than the sun.

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Jack W. SzostakBiochemist, Geneticist

Jack Szostak shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his investigation of telomeres. His current research delves into self-replicating systems and the origin of life.

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