Thursday Oct 6 7:30pm, Are We Alone? Astrobiology

Scientific Controversies No. 8: Are We Alone?

Thursday, Oct 06
Doors open at 7pm
Event at 7:30pm
Free to attend
$10 suggested donation at the door
159 Pioneer Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Pioneer Works, Brooklyn

DJ Black Helmet will open and close our night with twin sets of rare spaced out grooves.


For billions of years, life on this planet waffled in oceans in the simplest single-celled incarnation. Today, all complex life forms, no matter how disparate they seem, share common features. Trees, humans, squid, and lettuce are related. It is not known how the simple single-celled organisms finally transitioned to a multi-celled organism that seems to be the singular, original source of all complex life on Earth. So how rare is the emergence of life on any planet, let alone complex life forms?

We now estimate that there are tens of billions of planetary systems in our own galaxy and there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe, each presumably stocked with the chemical blocks necessary for life. In the competition between such large numbers and such small numbers, which wins? Are we alone? Astrophysicist Janna Levininvites biochemist Nick Lane, author of The Vital Question, and astrobiologist Caleb Scharf, author of The Copernicus Complex, to discuss the origin of life on this planet, on other planets, and even in other universes.


Janna Levin
Astrophysicist, Barnard/Columbia; Director of Sciences at Pioneer Works; author of Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space.

With guests:

Caleb Scharf
Astrobiologist, Columbia University; author of The Copernicus Complex.

Nick Lane
Biochemist, University College London; author of The Vital Question.

With support from the Simons Foundation.