Events Calendar

CPSX Research Forum: Meaning of Life

Thursday, February 25, 2016
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Physics & Astronomy Building (PAB)
Room: 26
Haley Sapers

The Meaning of Life: The Difficulty in Definition

Presented by Haley Sapers, Ph.D Planetary Science, Astrobiology, Postdoctural Research Fellow, CPSX

On November 26, 2011 at 7:02 am PST, Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory rover, was successfully launched and began the most ambitious search for life humankind has ever attempted.  How, though, can we search for something that we cannot define or characterize? Life is clearly more than the sum of its parts, yet the most comprehensive definitions of life do little more than list the characteristics of living things.  If Curiosity is successful in finding putative evidence of life on Mars, does the scientific community have the context in which to interpret the results and answer the question what is life?

I will discuss the epistemological considerations and emerging scientific pedagogy surrounding the definition of life and the systematic methodology used when interpreting ambiguous features as evidence of life. I will then present some of my research and the possible role(s) of meteorite impact events in the origin and early evolution of life on Earth. 

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