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Astrobiology Symposium “Preparing for Discovery," Sept. 18-19

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posted on Aug, 16 2014 @ 11:29 AM
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I've said I'd keep you updated as to interesting stories, studies, missions and conferences related to Astrobiology a/k/a the hunt for aliens.

Here is an interesting conference due to take place next month which I will be attending with regards to preparing for the day where we definitely know that aliens exist and can point to a point in the sky and say, "there is life there."

Unlike other conferences which are usually just scientists and engineers and filled with scientific papers detailing different findings or previewing new experiments, this one has a broader scope which includes philosophers and theologians.

The idea behind it is to continue the growing dialog between this field and the people and institutions which many people look to when a paradigm shifts (religions).




Astrobiology Symposium “Preparing for Discovery," Sept. 18-19

Explores Impact of Finding Life Beyond Earth


WEBWIRE – Saturday, August 16, 2014

How might humanity prepare for the possibility of discovering microbial or complex life beyond Earth? Scientists, historians, philosophers and theologians from around the world will convene at the Library of Congress John W. Kluge Center for two days in September to address this question.

“Preparing for Discovery: A Rational Approach to the Impact of Finding Microbial, Complex or Intelligent Life Beyond Earth” will take place from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 18 and Friday, Sept. 19 in room 119 of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The room will open at 8:30 a.m. for coffee. The symposium is free and open to the public.

The NASA Astrobiology Institute will simulcast the symposium. To access the webcast, visit ac.arc.nasa.gov.... Choose the option to “enter as a guest,” type your name in the field, and click “enter room.”

Steven J. Dick, the second Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology at the Kluge Center, will serve as host and lead the symposium discussion.

“The science of astrobiology has revealed new discoveries about the conditions and possibilities for life, both extremophile life on Earth and potentially habitable exoplanets beyond Earth,” says Dick. “The possibility that simple or complex organisms may be discovered elsewhere compels us to ask how we might prepare to face such new knowledge.”

Four panels will address the historical, philosophical, theological and societal implications of astrobiology, including the scientific study of life’s origins and future.

One panel will investigate how to frame the question of the impact of discovering life: what approaches can and should be used? A second will address the challenge of moving beyond current conceptions of what constitutes life, intelligence and civilization—conceptions which are based on anthropocentric models. A third panel will specifically address the philosophical and theological implications of a universe potentially teeming with life. The final panel will assess the practical impact that astrobiology research has on society, and assess the risks associated with discovery.

Participants include:


Constance M. Bertka, Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington, D.C.

Linda Billings, consultant to NASA’s Astrobiology and Near-Earth Object Programs, Planetary Science Division, NASA Headquarters;

Eric J. Chaisson, astrophysicist, Harvard University;

Carol Cleland, professor of philosophy, University of Colorado;

Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, astronomer and meteoriticist, the Vatican Observatory;

Iris Fry, professor, Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas, Tel Aviv University (retired);

Robin W. Lovin, director of research, Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, New Jersey;

Mark Lupisella, leader, NASA Goddard Advanced Exploration Systems Support for Human Exploration;

Jane Maienschein, Regents’ Professor, President’s Professor and Parents Association Professor, Arizona State University;

Lori Marino, neuroscientist and expert in animal behavior and intelligence;

Carlos Mariscal, post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Comparative Genomics and Evolutionary Bioinformatics in Halifax, Nova Scotia;

Margaret Race, senior scientist at SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in MountainView, California;

Susan Schneider, associate professor, Philosophy Department, University of Connecticut;

Dirk Schulze-Makuch, professor in the School of the Environment, Washington State University;

Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute;

John W. Traphagan, anthropologist and professor in the Department of Religious Studies, University of Texas at Austin;

Douglas Vakoch, director of Interstellar Message Composition, SETI Institute;

Clément Vidal, philosopher, co-director of the Evo Devo Universe;

Elspeth Wilson, doctoral candidate in political science, University of Pennsylvania.

Jennifer Wiseman, senior project scientist for Hubble Space Telescope, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

For further information on the panels and the schedule, please visit this site.

Dick, who organized the symposium, is a well-known astronomer, author and historian of science. He has been in residence at the Kluge Center since November 2013. Prior to his appointment at the Library, Dick was the Charles A. Lindbergh Chair in aerospace history at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum and served as the chief historian for NASA.

The astrobiology chair is a distinguished senior research position housed within the John W. Kluge Center. Using the collections and services at the Library, the chair holder conducts research at the intersection between the science of astrobiology and its humanistic aspects, particularly its societal implications. The chair honors the late Baruch Blumberg, a Nobel Prize winner in medicine, former member of the Library’s Scholars Council and the founding director of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, who actively promoted research and development across disciplines. For more information visit this site.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit www.loc.gov/kluge/.

The NASA Astrobiology Program supports research into the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI), an element of that program, is a partnership among NASA, 14 U.S. teams, and 10 international consortia. NAI’s goals are to promote, conduct, and lead interdisciplinary astrobiology research, train a new generation of astrobiology researchers, and share the excitement of astrobiology with learners of all ages.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov.

edit on 16-8-2014 by JadeStar because: (no reason given)




posted on Aug, 16 2014 @ 12:28 PM
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Fascinating stuff, and I'm glad that such subject is being discussed. For ATS crowd, though, there's probably only one question: will "they" allow the public to know about alien life, or will they keep it secret in fear of global panic and the collapse of the society?


Speaking of philosophers, I have always wondered, what exactly do they do for a living?



posted on Aug, 16 2014 @ 12:40 PM
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originally posted by: wildespace
Fascinating stuff, and I'm glad that such subject is being discussed. For ATS crowd, though, there's probably only one question: will "they" allow the public to know about alien life, or will they keep it secret in fear of global panic and the collapse of the society?


I thought that question was answered in 1996 with the whole Mars Meteorite thing. The fact that there were leaks about it before the actual announcement by the scientists and Bill Clinton gives a pretty good indication that it's probably impossible to cover up discoveries like this even if there were motive.

The idea of anyone wanting to cover up one of the greatest discoveries in human history to me is a dubious assumption to be honest. It's popular among the UFO/conspiracy crowd (most of which are greying) but for people like me who have grown up with a plethora of representations of alien life and contact scenarios it seem like a quaint, Cold-War paranoia idea, right up there with fluoridation being a Communist plot, duck & cover and fallout shelters.

When people find out what I study most everyone always asks the question "so where are the aliens?" or "when will we find aliens?" The first question is usually asked by people around my age (college), the second is usually asked by older people.



Speaking of philosophers, I have always wondered, what exactly do they do for a living?


They study humanity, consciousness, our interaction with each other and the world and universe around us and big ideas or questions about our place in the universe. Same as they always have.
edit on 16-8-2014 by JadeStar because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 16 2014 @ 01:08 PM
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Imagine if they did find some alien micro-bacterial life. The first thing to be done would be to analyze the genetic structure and see what was in common with the Terran genome.

Do they use the same amino acids? Are the genetic blocks encoded using three amino acids (GTAC) as on Earth? There isn't really much reason why is it three rather than four or even five. On Earth, these are universal, with the exception of human mitochondria where there are several triplet changes – such as UGA coding for Trp rather than STOP and AUA coding for Met instead of Ile.

biochem.co...
biochem.co...

Then if these were the same, the next step would be to compare genes and then epi-genetic factors. But what if the the amino codes were totally different. We'd have to see whether they encoded for similar proteins and enzymes, since the behavior of atoms remains the same (assuming room temperature environment). Different pressures or temperatures could change physical reactions in unknown ways - this already happens with deep ocean wildlife. Some crustaceans that exist at the bottom of the oceans will disintegrate if taken to lower depths.



posted on Aug, 16 2014 @ 01:26 PM
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You had me hooked until i read
THEOLOGIANS....
Have NOTHING whatsoever against faith..
But Organized Religion is a no no for me..
Philosophers sure, but not the other guys...



posted on Aug, 16 2014 @ 01:32 PM
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originally posted by: stormcell
Imagine if they did find some alien micro-bacterial life. The first thing to be done would be to analyze the genetic structure and see what was in common with the Terran genome. p

Do they use the same amino acids? Are the genetic blocks encoded using three amino acids (GTAC) as on Earth? There isn't really much reason why is it three rather than four or even five. On Earth, these are universal, with the exception of human mitochondria where there are several triplet changes – such as UGA coding for Trp rather than STOP and AUA coding for Met instead of Ile.

biochem.co...
biochem.co...

Then if these were the same, the next step would be to compare genes and then epi-genetic factors. But what if the the amino codes were totally different. We'd have to see whether they encoded for similar proteins and enzymes, since the behavior of atoms remains the same (assuming room temperature environment). Different pressures or temperatures could change physical reactions in unknown ways - this already happens with deep ocean wildlife. Some crustaceans that exist at the bottom of the oceans will disintegrate if taken to lower depths.


The first thing I would want to know is if it had DNA and if so if it was left handed or right handed DNA (the chirality of DNA). That would have a very practical benefit because if it is left handed it could have no interaction with our right handed DNA and could pose no danger due to exposure.




posted on Aug, 16 2014 @ 01:37 PM
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originally posted by: Miccey
You had me hooked until i read
THEOLOGIANS....
Have NOTHING whatsoever against faith..
But Organized Religion is a no no for me..
Philosophers sure, but not the other guys...


I agree with you mostly but I also see value in religious institutions for two reasons:

1) Longevity - They stand the test of time and organizations like the 100 Year Starship organization 100yss.org... have looked at the way they are structured to think about how to create an organization which will last until we have viable means to get to some of these distant worlds.

2) Vatican Observatory is a big player in the astrobiology world and it seems the Vatican is turning some of the money it gets from the flock into scientific instruments so it's really not an (us vs them) thing. They have sponsored several conferences on Astrobiology and are involved in the research into developing the "New Worlds Observer" space telescope which would take pictures of other Earths sometime in the late 2020s early 2030s.



posted on Aug, 16 2014 @ 02:09 PM
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3 keywords:

Truth
Honesty
Empathy

All you need to be a good person...

Follow the money...Mmm that is sad, but true..
They have loads of that...Imagine what the world
would be like if they shared...REALLY shared...

Im not good at much, but im really good at fixing stuf..
Computers mostly.. I do it for free, fixing roof for a friend
after i fix her waterleak in her basement...Free...
If i can i help... I dont need someone to tell me thats a
good thing... And NO i dont do it for any returnfavor..

Longevity... Humankind have been here longer than
fait even...

I hear what you´re saying Jade, i just dont like it...


Mods: Really sorry for this. I think it might derail
the topic... I just needed to get of my cheast..

edit on 2014/8/16 by Miccey because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 16 2014 @ 02:17 PM
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originally posted by: wildespace


Speaking of philosophers, I have always wondered, what exactly do they do for a living?


This might help answer your question:




posted on Aug, 16 2014 @ 05:22 PM
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originally posted by: eriktheawful

originally posted by: wildespace


Speaking of philosophers, I have always wondered, what exactly do they do for a living?


This might help answer your question:



Anti-Intelliectualism masked as comedy. Cute.



posted on Aug, 16 2014 @ 06:12 PM
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a reply to: JadeStar

Nah, it was just comedy, at least back then. It was a big hit when it came out decades ago.

If you've never seen the movie, a "Stand Up Philosopher" in roman times apparently (according to Mel Brooks) was what a "Stand Up Comedian" was.

Watch the movie......then judge.



posted on Aug, 17 2014 @ 01:20 AM
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originally posted by: JadeStar
They study humanity, consciousness, our interaction with each other and the world and universe around us and big ideas or questions about our place in the universe. Same as they always have.

Thanks, I get the general idea, but my question was more along the lines of "how do they get their paycheck?" or "what is a day in the life of a philosopher is like?" Are they simply writers and lecturers on topics of philosophy? Do they run a business, i.e. "call us to have your questions about the meaning of life answered." Do governments and large organisations have a resident philosopher working for them, to provide moral guidance?

Sorry for getting off-topic, but this really puzzles me.
edit on 17-8-2014 by wildespace because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 23 2014 @ 05:00 PM
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Just to chip in my agreement with this next step in space exploration, "biology" www.jamesoberg.com...




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