2020 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: Speculations on Alien Life On Earth and Across the Universe main content.

2020 Isaac Asimov Debate: Alien Life

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Speculations on Alien Life on Earth and Across the Universe

Join Neil deGrasse Tyson, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, and a panel of experts as they discuss how life may have formed on Earth and explore what alien life might look like elsewhere in the universe. What criteria do we use to classify life as we know it? Should the criteria be revised as we look for life on other worlds?

The debate will bring scientists from different fields together to share their creative ideas for what forms life might take in an extraterrestrial environment and what these predictions can teach us about life on our own planet.

This year's debate will be presented as a livestream, with a question-and-answer session to follow.

In 2020, the Museum is celebrating the legacy of Charles Hayden, whose vision made the Hayden Planetarium possible and brought the universe to New York City.

Meet the Panelists

Nathalie A. Cabrol
Director, Carl Sagan Center for Research
The SETI Institute

Author of From Habitability to Life on Mars

Vera Kolb
Professor of Chemistry
University of Wisconsin-Parkside

With Benton C. Clark III, author of Astrobiology for a General Reader: A Questions and Answers Approach

Seth Shostak
Senior Astronomer & Institute Fellow
The SETI Institute

With Jeffery Bennett, author of Life in the Universe

Carol Cleland
Director of the Center for the Study of Origins and Professor of Philosophy
University of Colorado

Author of The Quest for a Universal Theory of Life: Searching for Life As We Don't Know It

Max Tegmark
Director of the Foundational Questions Institute
Professor of Physics, MIT

Author of Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Host and Moderator
Astrophysicist and the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium
American Museum of Natural History

Author of Letters from an Astrophysicist

The late Dr. Isaac Asimov, one of the most prolific and influential authors of our time, was a dear friend and supporter of the American Museum of Natural History. In his memory, the Hayden Planetarium is honored to host the annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate—generously endowed by relatives, friends, and admirers of Isaac Asimov and his work—bringing the finest minds in the world to the Museum each year to debate pressing questions on the frontier of scientific discovery. Proceeds from ticket sales of the Isaac Asimov Memorial Debates benefit the scientific and educational programs of the Hayden Planetarium.