16 March, Leicester - Green, Grey or Little Squidgy Things, Where and What is Alien Life?

16 March, Leicester - Green, Grey or Little Squidgy Things, Where and What is Alien Life?

Postby Graham Southorn » Thu Mar 04, 2010 11:16 am

This just received from the University of Leicester:

Free public lecture on Tuesday 16 March at the University of Leicester discusses the search for Life elsewhere in the Solar System and the wider Universe.

New research at the University of Leicester is set to explore the presence of aliens and other Life forms outside of the Earth – and will be discussed in a public lecture focussing on whether we are – or have been – alone.

Professor Mark Sims, Professor of Astrobiology and Space Instrumentation in the Space Research Centre at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, will be delivering his inaugural lecture, ‘Green, Grey or Little Squidgy Things, Where and What is Alien Life?’ on Tuesday 16 March at 5.30pm in the Ken Edwards Building, Lecture Theatre 1, University of Leicester.

The lecture is part of a series of events at the University of Leicester celebrating National Science and Engineering Week.

Data from recent space missions will be used to discuss the search for life on Mars and explore the opportunities available on future missions as well as investigating the possibility of uncovering Life elsewhere in the Solar System and the wider Universe. Professor Sims will also be explaining the Life Marker Chip, an instrument he has led and which will hopefully be flown on the European Space Agencies ExoMars Rover Mission in 2018.

Professor Sims commented:

“It is a difficult process as we still don't really know what alien life is. That said we now have techniques to look for carbon-water based Life within the Solar System and will soon be able to detect, in 10-20 years, the signs of such Life in the atmospheres of planets round other stars.

“It is a process that demands blending a large swathe of scientific knowledge and techniques and is very much interdisciplinary and cross-cutting in nature. In addition some of the technologies and techniques developed have down-to-Earth applications from green chemistry through to potentially improving healthcare in the Third World.”

Professor Sims is confident that within the next ten to twenty years we will have a definitive answer as to whether or not Life exists outside of Earth in the Solar System and perhaps beyond, either in the past or present. Using the example of the extreme conditions under which we can find bacteria on this planet, Professor Sims will explain why bacterial type life will dominate any planetary ecosystem and therefore should be searched for.

He said:

“The lecture is the culmination to date of my career having being promoted to Professor and aims to express the exciting possibility of detecting Life elsewhere. We are entering an era when we might start to answer one of the biggest questions we have as a species: Are we alone in the Universe? It is exciting to be part of that effort and be able to explain it to both my colleagues and the public.”

‘Green, Grey or Little Squidgy Things, Where and What is Alien Life?’ will take place on Tuesday 16 March at 5.30pm in the Ken Edwards Building, Lecture Theatre 1. This is a free, public lecture and to book a place, please contact Pritty Wadhia via inaugural@le.ac.uk.

The lecture is being given as part of a series of events at the University of Leicester celebrating National Science and Engineering Week. National Science and Engineering Week (NSEW) is a ten day programme of science, engineering and technology events and activities across the UK aimed at people of all ages, which is now in its 17th year.

This year, NSEW takes place between 12–21 March with the theme of ‘Earth’. This complements the International Year of Biodiversity and includes everything from the Earth's amazing wildlife and people to its place in the Universe and how it works.
Graham Southorn
 
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