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Life in the Universe Symposium 2020

Date: 4-5 November 2020

Location: US,

2-day Online Conference 4-5 November 2020

The conference will cover astronomical searches for exoplanets and techno- and bio-signatures of life, the origins of life on Earth and biochemical and palaeontological subjects.

The objectives of the conference are 

  1. To link research on life in the Universe with research on the development and evolution of life on Earth.
  2. To raise the profile of the subject for both researchers and the public.


  • Registration: 2 November 2020


Invited talks

  • Opening keynote address (Martin Rees)
  • The Breakthrough Initiatives (Pete Worden)
  • The search for techno-signatures (Andrew Siemion)
  • NExSS (Mary Voytek)
  • Synthetic biology and what kind of molecules can form the basis of life (Michael Hecht)
  • The discovery of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus (Jane Greaves)
  • Early life forms from very old water (Barbara Sherwood Lollar)
  • Evolutionary origins of the first proto-cells and the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) (Pierre Durand)
  • Earliest fossilised evidence of prokaryote life and eukaryogenesis (Jaganmoy Jodder)
  • Exoplanets (Ignas Snellen)
  • Hominid evolution in Africa and the emergence of human intelligence (Robert Blumenschine)
  • SA Astronomical Observatory facilities and opportunities for exoplanet and transient work (Petri Vaisanen)
  • Saving the Moon Farside Radio Silence for SETI, Planetary Defense and Cosmology (Claudio Maccone)

A multi-disciplinary conference arranged by Breakthrough Initiatives, the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, the SA Astronomical Observatory and the Palaeontological Scientific Trust (PAST)

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