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Former Astrobiology Chair Steven J. Dick Receives 2019 PROSE Award

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Steven Dick testifies before the House Science Committee, December 4, 2013. Photo courtesy House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

The Kluge Center is proud to congratulate Steven J. Dick, 2013 Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology on winning a 2019 PROSE award for Cosmology and Astronomy from the Association of American Publishers (AAP). Read their announcement and see the other winners here.

Dick won the award for his 2018 book “Astrobiology, Discovery, and Societal Impact”. He has written extensively on the search for life in the universe and its impacts on life on Earth.

In 2016, Kluge profiled Dick’s 2015 book “The Impact of Discovering Life Beyond Earth,” produced in part with research undertaken at the Library and drawing from a symposium Dick held in September 2014, featuring scientists, theologians, and NASA personnel examining the titular question.

Read an interview with Steven J. Dick here, where he looks at the politics of exploration and more:


In both Congressional hearings on astrobiology, Members of Congress asked what do we do if we discover something? There’s been some work on this problem, but not enough, in my opinion. There are some basic planetary protection protocols regarding the microbial situation, but they haven’t gone much beyond that. And there are no protocols for intelligent life beyond “confirm first and then tell everyone.” This is not for a single person to figure out. It would need to be an interdisciplinary group that includes elected officials, scientists, humanists, and theologians. The theological implications would play out for each religion over the course of time. By the way, it seems largely to be western culture that has the preoccupation with life beyond Earth. It’s an interesting question why that is. Eastern cultures do not seem as preoccupied, whereas western scientists and popular culture are consumed by it. Why that is is an interesting research question that I’ve not explored.

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