How would an alien scientist recognize life including signs of intelligence if they observed our planet from afar?
Last month, Dr. David Grinspoon, senior scientist at the Planetary Institute, posed this question to a crowd of over 90 students and faculty as part of the Mathematics, Sciences, Technologies, and Business division science seminar series at NOVA’s Annandale Campus.
Dr. Grinspoon is an expert astrobiologist, award-winning author, and was inaugural Chair of Astrobiology at the Library of Congress, where he studied human impacts on earth. His writings have appeared in Scientific American, The New York Times, Slate and his 2017 book, and Earth in Human Hands; Shaping Our Planet’s Future, which a was named a Best Book of the Year by NPR Science Friday.
His presentation, The Emergence of Planetary Intelligence: Astrobiology and the Anthropocene Earth, discussed how our planet was fundamentally changed by the emergence of life and how it has been altered in recent times by a single species, Homo sapiens. He took participants on a journey that spanned the Big Bang to the social media era of today. His talk focused on a new geological age, the Anthropocene. This age, defined by collective human activity while threatening our own existence, holds the promise for solutions to current environmental crises we inadvertently have created.
His talk was thought-provoking and inspiring and stirred a lively discussion of our possible futures. The Science Seminar Series will continue this spring.
For more information, visit his blog https://blogs.nvcc.edu/scienceseminar/.