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What is life? How might life have emerged on Earth or on other worlds? And how might we engineer the future of life—what might we make life to be? Astrobiologists and synthetic biologists grapple with these questions every day. To further explore the intersections between these sciences and the humanities, the Library of Congress is bringing together scientists, scholars, artists, and journalists for a special symposium on the intersections of astrobiology and synthetic biology.

Date/Time: Thursday, September 28, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Location: The John W. Kluge Center, Room 119, Thomas Jefferson Building 
Directions to the Library of Congress

Free and open to the public. No RSVP required.

Webcast: This event will be filmed and a video placed on the Kluge Center website and YouTube playlist

Luis CamposHost

Luis Campos, 2016-2017 Baruch S. Blumberg
NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology.

More about Luis Campos

Participants

  • Luis Campos – Associate Professor, Department of History, University of New Mexico and current Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology
  • Mary Voytek – Senior Scientist for Astrobiology at NASA
  • Nicola Twilley – Contributing Writer, newyorker.com
  • Giada Arney – NASA Goddard
  • Betul Kacar – University of Arizona
  • Jason Kelly – Ginkgo Bioworks
  • Valerie Thompson – Book Review Editor, Science Magazine
  • Jennifer Joy and Benumerata Muhammad
  • Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg – Royal College of Art
  • Andy Gracie – Digital Artist
  • Joe Davis – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Stefan Helmreich – Anthropologist of Science, MIT
  • Antonio Regalado – Senior Editor MIT Technology Review
  • Markus Schmidt – CEO and founder, Biofaction

Previous Astrobiology Symposia

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The NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology is a distinguished senior scholar at The John W. Kluge Center who conducts research at the intersection of the science of astrobiology and its humanistic and social implications. Applications are accepted through December 1 from scholars worldwide. Learn more, apply

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About the Kluge Center

 

Schedule

Thursday, September 28, 2017

9:00–9:15

Welcome

9:15–9:50

The Cosmic Context

  • Introductory Remarks
    Mary Voytek, Senior Scientist for Astrobiology at NASA
  • “Life As It Could Be”
    Luis A. Campos, Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair of Astrobiology
9:50–10:00

Coffee Break

10:00–11:30

From the Laboratory

Moderator, Nicola Twilley, Contributing Writer, newyorker.com

Performance: “In the Beginning,” Jennifer Joy and Benumerata Muhammad

  • “Identifying Habitable Worlds,” Giada Arney, NASA Goddard
  • “Resurrecting Ancient Life: Traveling Backwards in Evolutionary Time,” Betul Kacar, University of Arizona
  • “Designing Organisms and Programming Biology,” Jason Kelly, Ginkgo Bioworks
11:30–12:00

Discussion and Q&A

12:00–1:30

Lunch, on your own

1:30–3:00

From the Library

Moderator, Valerie Thompson, Book Review Editor, Science Magazine

Performance: “I Am Life,” Jennifer Joy and Benumerata Muhammad

  • “Habitable Worlds Revisited,” Luis A. Campos, Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair of Astrobiology
  • “The Limits of Life,” Stefan Helmreich, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • “Xenobiology: Encountering Other Forms of Life,” Markus Schmidt, Biofaction
3:00–3:15

Discussion and Q&A

3:15–3:30

Break

3:30–5:00

From the Studio

Moderator, Nicola Twilley, Contributing Writer, newyorker.com

Performance: “Extinction Arkestra,” Jennifer Joy and Benumerata Muhammad

  • “Remaking Earth,” Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Royal College of Art
  • “AstroBioSemiotics: Art and Experiment,” Andy Gracie, Digital Artist
  • “Astrobiological Horticulture,” Joe Davis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
5:00–5:15

Discussion and Q&A

5:15

Conclusion and Reception

  • Luis A. Campos, Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair of Astrobiology
  • Film by Adi Gelbart (silent screening during reception)

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Webcast

A video and transcript of this symposium will be posted on the Kluge Center website and YouTube playlist following the event.

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