Research News

Update on the science of life in the universe March 3

Astrobiologist Caleb Scharf (Courtesy of Caleb Scharf)

From time immemorial people have asked the questions: Are we alone? Where do we come from?

These are the questions that Caleb Scharf, director of astrobiology at Columbia University, will be addressing in a free public lecture on Thursday, March 3 on the Vanderbilt campus. The colloquium is scheduled for 3 p.m. in Stevenson Center 4327. It is preceded by a reception at 2:30 p.m. in Stevenson Center 6333.

The title of Scharf’s talk is “Astrobiology: The Science of Life in the Universe.” In it he will describe how the exploration of the solar system, the discovery of thousands of exoplanets and the renewed quest to understanding the origins of life are bringing us closer to answering these age-old questions. He will report on the latest developments in astrobiology, including work on building virtual worlds at Columbia, and will provide some insights into the directions that the field is headed.

Scharf’s career has spanned cosmology, high-energy astrophysics and exoplanetary science. He currently leads efforts at Columbia University to understand the nature of exoplanets and the environments suitable for life in the universe. The Guardian newspaper has characterized his Life, Unbounded blog at Scientific American as one of the “hottest science blogs” and his popular science book, The Copernicus Complex, was The Times of London’s science book of the year. He has written popular articles for a number of newspapers and magazines and has served as guest or consultant for The Discovery Channel, BBC, PBS, Science Channel, History Channel and National Geographic, among others.