The Future of Life

Here on Earth and Elsewhere

A workshop on human exploration of the cosmos

With robust aerospace, chemical evolution, and planetary science programs, and with four authors of NASA’s astrobiology roadmap as faculty, Georgia Tech is a thought leader in origins of life science. The College of Science and College of Engineering’s contributions to space exploration and astrobiology research have spanned decades. Together with contributions from the Ivan Allen College, the Institute is well poised to frame broad discussions of astrobiology and its cultural relevance that will shape societal decision making and inspire future research. To that end, Georgia Tech will host a two-day series of conversations and scholarly workshops designed to connect scientists and liberal arts scholars from across the campus, city, and country with the stirring possibilities and consequences of humanity’s shared endeavor to understand its origins, its station, and its future.

October 21 Full Program (SOLD OUT)

Register for the October 21 Group Intelligence Program

Register for the October 22 Program

Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson

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Acclaimed science fiction author of Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson will be interviewed on October 21, 2016. Be sure to hear his perspectives on how science informs science fiction and literature.
Group Intelligence Promotional Video
Group Intelligence: a Science and Art experiment in public places.
See how traditional Darwinian "survival of the fittest" isn't evolution's whole story. Group Intelligence directs participants to behave in ways analogous to molecules on the early Earth.

Register online by October 19

Premiere of Retrosyn

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Many people believe that RNA may have been the first molecule of life. But how could complex biopolymers like those in life today have evolved? Retrosyn uses aerial dance to explore how natural cycles on the early Earth may have driven the evolution of biochemistry.
Based on the work of Georgia Tech scientists, the short piece is accompanied by a string quartet originally composed and performed by CCE undergraduate researcher, Catherine Psarakis.

Chemical Evolution, Stated Clearly

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How can current science research best be communicated to the public? Join us for a discussion of informal science communication and its role in developing an educated populace. We will screen the Stated Clearly animation, "What is Chemical Evolution?" and describe the guiding principles and creative process for these science animations.


Friday, October 21 (Molecular Science and Engineering 3201A)

Register for the Friday Program (SOLD OUT)

  • 11:00: Introduction by Kenneth Knoespel
  • 11:10: Screenings of Retrosyn and Stated Clearly Animation, "Sharing Science with the Public," Chris Parsons
  • 11:30: 'The Edges of Astrobiology,' a conversation over lunch with John Baross
  • 1:00: Interview with Kim Stanley Robinson
  • 2:00: Group Intelligence flash mob on the instructional center lawn
    Register for Group Intelligence here

Saturday, October 22 (Engineered Biosystems Building- Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Seminar Room)

Register for the Saturday Program

  • 9:00: Opening remarks by Deans Royster and Goldbart
  • 9:15: 'The Origin of Biochemistry,' Nick Hud
  • 9:45: 'Multicellularity,' Frank Rosenzweig
  • 10:15: 'Engineering Perspectives on the Origin of Life,' Martha Grover
  • 10:45: 'Instrumentation to Search for Signatures of Life in the Solar System,' Amanda Stockton
  • 11:15: 'Habitability of Worlds and the Discovery of Water on Mars,' James Wray
  • 12:00: Lunch and Discussion
  • 1:15: 'Rethinking Big Narratives,' Ken Knoespel
  • 1:45: 'The Other Worlds of Science Fiction,' Lisa Yaszek
  • 2:15: 'Security and the Exploration of Space,' Maggie Kosal
  • 2:45: 'The Matter of Religion,' Derek Malone France
  • 3:15: 'The Socio-Economic Elements of Astrobiology,' Usha Nair-Reichart
  • 3:45: Closing discussion and projection of future meetings

The Future of Life-- Here on Earth and Elsewhere

Friday, Oct. 21st, 11am to Saturday, Oct. 22nd, 5pm

North Ave NW

Atlanta, GA

This two day workshop will showcase the cutting edge science that comprises our understanding of life in the universe. As part of a broad discussion, the social and cultural implications of scientific progress will be examined by humanities scholars and social scientists. The first day of the program will feature a variety of arts programs including a flash mob, aerial dance, and an interview with Kim Stanley Robinson.