The question “What is life?” takes just three words. But it is one of the hardest questions in science, attracting researchers from a huge range of disciplines, from molecular biology to astronomy to philosophy. This fall, science writer Carl Zimmer delves into this question by talking to eight experts over four nights to understand what the newest research tells us about life.
Night 2, with geochemist H James Cleaves II and astrobiologist Caleb Scharf, tackles the question “How did life start?”
Event starts 8:00pm, doors 7:30pm. 21+
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Henderson "Jim" Cleaves is an associate professor at the Earth-Life Science Institute in Tokyo, and a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He is also the Director of the ELSI Origins Network, vice president of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life, and co-author, with Bill Mesler, of A Brief History of Creation. He researches organic geochemistry and the origins of life on Earth, as well developing new ways of detecting life on Earth and elsewhere.
Caleb Scharf works in the fields of exoplanetary science and astrobiology, and writes extensively about science for a popular audience. Exoplanetary science is devoted to the discovery and characterization of planets around other stars, and understanding the formation, histories, and properties of these planets. One ultimate goal of this research is to find planets that could harbor recognizable life, and to detect the presence of that life—an effort that falls under the banner of astrobiology.
Carl Zimmer is a columnist for the New York Times, where his column “Matter” appears each week. He is the author of thirteen books on science, and is a frequent guest on radio programs and podcasts such as Radiolab. In 2016, Zimmer won the Stephen Jay Gould Prize, awarded annually by the Society for the Study of Evolution to recognize individuals whose sustained efforts have advanced public understanding of evolutionary science.
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Wed Dec 20
What is Life: What did the first life look like?
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