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Professor Dirk Schulze-Makuch
"Habitable Worlds in our Solar System and Beyond"

September 19, 2011

Our September speaker, Professor Dirk Schulze-Makuch, is the Director of the Laboratory for Astrobiological Investigations & Space Mission Planning at Washington State University.

Prof. Schulze-Makuch takes you on a tour of our Solar System exploring how life may thrive or have thrived on habitable planets and moons such as Mars, Europa, Titan, and perhaps even Venus.

Based on our knowledge of extremophilic life on Earth, we can only imagine how diverse life could be elsewhere - possibly using hydrocarbons as a universal solvent rather than water, and utilizing different energy sources and building blocks. Finally, he will discuss the possibility of life on exoplanets and the implications of the Fermi Paradox on the existence of complex life beyond our Solar System.

Dr. Schulze-Makuchís research interests focus on the interaction of microbes with their natural geological environment in an aqueous medium. In particular, he is interested in the presence of liquid-rich environments on other planets and moons inside and outside of our Solar System and how these environments can serve as a potential habitat for microbial life.

Examples include investigations of the habitability of the near-surface environment of Mars, the Martian subsurface, the Gliese 581 system, water-rich clouds on Venus, and ammonia-water puddles and hydrocarbon lakes on the surface of Saturnís moon Titan.

Dr. Schulze-Makuch received his Ph.D. in geosciences from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in 1996 and worked for the following two years as Senior Project Hydrologist at Envirogen, Inc., an environmental research and consulting firm, before he joined the faculty at the University of Texas at El Paso in 1998. During the following year he was also a NASA Faculty Fellow at the Goddard Space Flight Center. In 2004 he joined the faculty at Washington State University and was promoted to full professor in 2010. The same year he received the Friedrich-Wilhelm Bessel Price from the Humboldt Foundation for extraordinary achievements in the field of theoretical biology. Dr. Schulze-Makuch wrote four books in the fields of astrobiology, one science fiction novel, and published more than 100 papers in academic journals.

Dr. Schulze-Makuchís research interests focus on the presence of liquid-rich environments on other planets and moons inside and outside of our Solar System and how these environments can serve as a potential habitat for life.

This groundbreaking book demonstrates there is a powerful case for life on the Red Planet and beyond.

Taking weird organisms on Earth as a starting point, Schulze-Makuch and Darling explore what forms extraterrestrial life might take and where it may reside. From the results of the 1976 Viking I Lander to microbe ridden meteorites and the methane rains of Titan, We Are Not Alone provides a captivating tour of the Solar System and shows that itís much more crowded than we previously realized.

This book is a very accessible and well-written account of the evidence for (mostly microbial) life within our solar system.

http://www.oneworld-publications.com/cgi-bin/cart2/commerce.cgi?pid=524&log_pid=yes

Other Books written by Dr Kirk Schulze-Makuch
  • Schulze-Makuch, D. and Irwin, L.N. (2004 hard cover, 2006 soft cover) Life in the Universe: Expectations and Constraints. Springer, Berlin, 172 p. (Academic Science Book).
  • Schulze-Makuch, D. and Irwin, L.N. (2008) 2nd edition, Life in the Universe: Expectations and Constraints. Springer, Berlin, 251 p. (Academic Science Book).
  • Schulze-Makuch, D. (2009) Voids of Eternity: Alien Encounter. (Science Fiction novel).
  • Schulze-Makuch, D. and Darling, D. (2010) We are not alone: Why we have already discovered extraterrestrial life. One World Publisher (Popular Science Book)
  • Irwin, L.N. and Schulze-Makuch, D. (2011) Cosmic Biology: How Life could evolve on other Worlds. Praxis Publishing (Popular Science Book), in press.

 

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