Science in the Café: Is there a Shadow Biosphere on Earth?

The Portal for Astronomy in Singapore

Science in the Café: Is there a Shadow Biosphere on Earth?

Science Centre Singapore
Centre for Quantum Technologies, NUS

cordially invite you to

Science in the Café

on Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 7:00pm

to be held in

The Newton Room, Science Centre Singapore


Professor Paul Davies
Director of BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science
Arizona State University

who asks

Is There A Shadow Biosphere On Earth?

Please see below for more information.

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Attendance is free of charge but pre-registration is required.

Reservations are accepted on a first-come-first-served basis due to limited seating.

Please make your reservations by directly replying to this Announcement, or, online through on or before 12 January 2009.

Science Centre Singapore thanks the Centre for Quantum Technologies, NUS for bringing us this learning opportunity.

Is There A Shadow Biosphere On Earth?

Are we alone in the universe? This biggest of the big questions of existence hinges on the probability that life emerges from a mixture of non-living chemicals. Is life on Earth a statistical fluke, or is there a "life principle" built into the laws of nature, so that life is almost bound to occur wherever there are earth-like conditions? Many astrobiologists believe the latter is the case, but how can their hypothesis be tested? No planet is more earth-like than Earth itself, so if there is a life principle at work in the universe then life should have started many times on Earth. This raises the fascinating possibility that there is a shadow biosphere populated by microbial descendants of other biogenesis events. In my talk, I shall outline strategies for finding a shadow biosphere and ask, could there be alien organisms living right under our noses?


Paul Davies

… is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist, and currently, works in astrobiology, a new field of research that seeks to understand the origin and evolution of life, and to search for life beyond Earth. He was born in London, and spent most of his life in the UK. From 1990 to 2006, he lived in Australia. He moved to Arizona State University (ASU) to be the founding director of BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science in September 2006. In 2008, he was also appointed co-director of the ASU Cosmology Initiative. His interests are very broad, extending from the highly mathematical to the deeply philosophical, such as pondering the big questions of existence: How did the universe begin? What is the destiny of mankind? Is there a meaning to the universe? Along with publishing scientific papers, he has also written several books and articles for popular newspapers and magazines, and produced several radio and television programmes.


Centre for Quantum Technologies, NUS

… is funded by the Singapore National Research Foundation and the Ministry of Education. It is hosted by the National University of Singapore but enjoys a significant autonomy both in pursuing its research goals and in governance. The Centre has its own Governing Board, Scientific Advisory Board (J Ignacio Cirac, Atac Imamoglu, Michele Mosca, David J Wineland, Umesh Vazirani) and is headed by its own Director, Professor Artur Ekert.

The Centre mission is to conduct interdisciplinary theoretical and experimental research into the fundamental limits to information processing. The discovery that quantum physics allows fundamentally new modes of information processing has required the existing theories of computation, information and cryptography to be superseded by their quantum generalisations. We focus on the development of quantum technologies for coherent control of individual photons and atoms and explore both the theory and the practical possibilities of constructing quantum-mechanical devices for the purpose of cryptography and computation.


About the Centre's Science in the Café

Science Centre Singapore has adapted the highly successful Café Scientifique format used in Britain, France and elsewhere, to bring diverse groups of people together, in a relaxed, informal environment to discuss science and related issues that are transforming our society and our planet. Cafés are not (meant to be) lessons, seminars, debates or science clubs. They are audience-initiated discussions, much like those begun in cafeteria or common room or lounge "chats over coffee". Engagement (in the discussion) can be in any direction from the topic – be it scientific, philosophical, social, political, … In fact, it may be good to come with points of discussion in mind. Please view the Science Centre's webpages for information on other cafés. You may also register online from this website.

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