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The Search for Life in the Universe

Friday, June 4, 2010
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EST

Are we alone? It’s a question that has obsessed us for centuries, and now we have the technology to do more than wonder. Scientists on the hunt for distant planets and extraterrestrial intelligence will take us on their expeditions into faraway galaxies and barely visible realms. Nobel Laureate Sir Paul Nurse journeys to the brink of discovery with Jill Tarter, David Charbonneau, and Steven Squyres to contemplate what it would mean to have company in the cosmos.


Paul NurseGeneticist

Paul Nurse is a geneticist and cell biologist who has worked on how the eukaryotic cell cycle is controlled and how cell shape and cell dimensions are determined. His major work has been on the cyclin dependent protein kinases and how they regulate cell reproduction.

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David CharbonneauAstronomer

David Charbonneau has been called a “celestial detective” for his systematic search for planets orbiting nearby sun-like stars. Uncovering the secrets of these exoplanets, as they’re called, could conceivably lead to the first direct evidence of life beyond Earth.

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Jill TarterAstronomer

Jill Tarter has devoted her career to hunting for signs of sentient beings elsewhere through a systematic search for radio signals from Earth’s galactic neighbors. She has received wide recognition in the scientific community, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from Women in Aerospace, two Public Service Medals from NASA and a 2009 TEDPrize.

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Michael RussellAstrobiologist, Geochemist

Michael Russell’s research into the emergence of life and early evolution will help determine whether earth alone supports life in our universe. Russell was awarded the William Smith Medal from the Geological Society of London.

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Steven SquyresPlanetary Scientist

Steven W. Squyres is a veteran of several of NASA’s planetary exploration missions, including the Voyager mission to Jupiter and Saturn, the Magellan mission to Venus, and the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission.

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