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Science Cafe October: Life on Mars?

Presented by Adventure Science Center at Adventure Science Center, Nashville TN

Oct 15 2015
Science Cafe October: Life on Mars?

Life on Mars? The hype, the reality, and lessons from the past with speaker David Weintraub, Ph.D., Professor of Astronomy, Vanderbilt University.

Canals on Mars! (1880s) Mars as the Abode of Life! (1908)  Reflections from dark areas resemble chlorophyl! (1924) Dark areas resemble terrestrial lichens! (1952) Water on Mars is evidence of life! (1965)  Viking lander experiments find evidence or organic activity! (1976) Evidence of ancient martian life in a martian meteorite! (1996) Methane gas in martian atmosphere can only come from active bacteria! (2004)  Salty brine found on Mars … life could be hiding just a few feet underground! (2015) . . .

Where does the hype end and the good science begin? We will explore a half century of claims of discoveries of methane in the atmosphere of Mars as a way of stepping back in order to take a rational review of what we know about the evidence for life on Mars. From our conversation, we can then sensibly evaluate the most recent great discoveries about Mars just announced by NASA.

Dr. Weintraub holds a Ph.D. in Geophysics & Space Physics from the University of California, Los Angeles and a B.S. in Physics & Astronomy from Yale University. At Vanderbilt, he is Director of Undergraduate Studies for Physics & Astronomy and directs programs in The Communication of Science & Technology and in Scientific Computing. He is an expert in the study of star and planet formation and has written three books for non-professional audiences — Is Pluto a Planet? (2006), How Old is the Universe? (2010), and Religions and Extraterrestrial Life: How Will We Deal With It? (2014). He is the 2015 winner of the Klopsteg Award from the American Association of Physics Teachers, which recognizes the outstanding communication of the excitement of contemporary physics to the general public.


Free Admission and Open to the Public.

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Additional time info:

All Science Café events are free and open to the public on most third Thursdays of each month from 6:30pm to 7:30pm at Adventure Science Center.

* Event durations (if noted) are approximate. Please check with the presenting organization or venue to confirm start times and duration.


Adventure Science Center

800 Fort Negley Boulevard, Nashville, TN 37203


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