10th Annual John Carlson Lecture: Climate and the Potential for Life on Other Planets

Dorian Abbot (University of Chicago)
Thursday, October 21, 2021 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm
Hybrid - TBA

Climate and the Potential for Life on Other Planets

Understanding planetary habitability is key to understanding how and why life developed on Earth as well as whether life is present on planets that orbit different stars (exoplanets). Whether a planet could be habitable is determined primarily by the planet's climate. I will talk about how insights we've gained from studying Earth's climate have been used to make predictions about which exoplanets might be habitable, and how astronomical observations indicate the possibility of new climatic regimes not found on modern Earth. Finally, I will bring things back to Earth and the future of humanity by discussing what's called the Fermi paradox: it seems like life could develop on many planets, so why haven't we detected extraterrestrial life yet? One possible answer is that civilizations tend to destroy themselves through mechanisms such as environmental damage and nuclear war.

About the Speaker:

Dorian Abbot received his undergraduate degree in physics (2004, Harvard) and PhD in applied math (2008, Harvard). He came to the University of Chicago as a Chamberlin Fellow in 2009 and stayed on as a faculty member in 2011. In his research, Dorian uses mathematical and computational models to understand and explain fundamental problems in Earth and Planetary Sciences. He has worked on problems related to climate, paleoclimate, the cryosphere, planetary habitability, exoplanets, and planetary dynamics.


Details forthcoming


The John Carlson Lecture communicates exciting new results in climate science to the general public. Free of charge and open to the general public, the lecture is made possible by a generous gift from MIT alumnus John H. Carlson to the Lorenz Center in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, MIT. For more information please contact Angela Ellis: aellis@mit.edu