2002 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: The Search For Life main content.

2002 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: The Search For Life

Monday, June 10, 2002

Following the immense success of the inauguaral Isaac Asimov Memorial Panel Debate on the Theory of Everything, the second debate focused on the evidence for the possibility of life in the Universe. Once again, a diverse panel of outspoken scientists offered insight into the latest research in this field, including newest evidence from the Martian meteorite known as ALH84001, up-to-date information on sub-surface liquid water currently on Mars and Europa, Earth's thriving population of extremophiles (organisms that live in environments previously thought inhospitable), and the search for extrasolar planets.


  • Seth Shostak—Senior astronomer at the SETI Institute in California. Expert on the methods, tactics, and hardware needed to search for intelligent life in the Universe.
  • Peter Ward—Geologist at University of Washington. Co-author of the controversial book Rare Earth, arguing for the extreme rarity of complex life in the Milky Way Galaxy from the standpoint of geology, astrophysics, chemistry, and biology.
  • Chris McKay—Astrobiologist and planetary scientist at NASA Ames Research Center. Researcher on the evolution of the Solar System and the origin of life; involved in Mars mission planning and Antarctic field research.
  • Frank J. Tipler—Physicist at Tulane University. Author of The Physics of Immortality and co-author of The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, as well as numerous papers on the rarity of extraterrestrial intelligence.
  • Penelope Boston—Microbiologist at Complex Systems Research, Inc. Expert on the newly discovered branch of life known as extremophiles, which survive under conditions of temperature, acidity, and radiation that are lethal for humans and other forms of complex life.

Host & Moderator

  • Neil deGrasse Tyson—Astrophysicist and The Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium.