How to Make Life and Influence Planets

Co-sponsored by the MIT Museum and the NASA Astrobiology Institute at MIT
November 13, 2014

Discover the origins of life on earth and how life itself can drastically alter the landscape of our planet. Then learn what prospects lie ahead of finding habitable planets and even other types of life outside of the Earth. Come with questions, share your thoughts, and leave with new knowledge and understanding.

Soapbox: Origins of Life on Earth 
Discover what we can we infer about the origin of life from the genomes of living organisms and what the geological record tell us about the Earth's environments during life’s beginnings. What does this mean for the search for life beyond Earth? Speakers: Greg Fournier - Assistant Professor of Geobiology, MIT  and Francis Macdonald - Associate Professor of Geology, Harvard

Soapbox: The Invisible Majority (Part One) 
Most fossils are too small to see since most of life’s history is microbial. However it is possible to identify signatures of microbial life in rocks. Find out what they tell us, and how might we use them to recognize life elsewhere.  Giulio Mariotti - Crosby Postdoctoral Fellow, MIT. The Invisible Majority (Part Two) is presented by Ann Pearson - Professor of Environmental Sciences, Harvard.

Soapbox: Why Life Got Big 
For much of the earth's history, microbes were the only living organisms on the planet. What spurred the evolution of larger-sized and more diverse animals? David Johnston - Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences, Harvard and David Gold - Agouron Institute Postdoctoral Fellow, MIT

Soapbox: Life Beyond Earth
Discover what we know about the possibility of life in the rest of our solar system and beyond, and join a discussion about what that means for humanity in the future. Christopher Carr - Research Scientist, MIT, and Vlada Stamenkovic - SNSF Postdoctoral Fellow, MIT