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Former Astrobiology Chair Steven J. Dick Receives 2019 PROSE Award

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.

Life as it Could Be: A Conversation with Luis Campos

Fourth Astrobiology Chair Luis Campos began his tenure at the Kluge Center on October 3. A historian of science, his most recent book is “Radium and the Secret of Life” (University of Chicago Press, 2015). He will spend his fellowship year at the Kluge Center studying the history of synthetic biology and its overlap with astrobiology […]

Theories on the Origins of the Life: An Interview with Astrobiology Chair Nathaniel Comfort

In March, Astrobiology Chair Nathaniel Comfort interviewed four pioneering scientists about their roles in developing key models for the origins of life. The program titled “The Origins of the RNA World,” was part of Comfort’s year-long residency at the Kluge Center working on a book project about the genomic revolution’s impact on origins of life […]

Written at the Kluge Center: “The Impact of Discovering Life Beyond Earth”

In a new series, we profile books, articles and other publications written by scholars-in-residence at The John W. Kluge Center and researched using the Library of Congress collections. Jason Steinhauer begins with the newly published “The Impact of Discovering Life Beyond Earth,” edited by 2013-14 Astrobiology Chair Steven Dick. Extraterrestrial life has not been discovered, […]

Expanding the Astrobiology Conversation

This year’s Blumberg Dialogues on Astrobiology expanded the conversations around astrobiology to include philosophers, historians, religion scholars, literature scholars, communications scholars and professors of English and theater, in addition to scientists. The videos of these public dialogues are now available on our website and YouTube; the dialogues were part of the Kluge Center’s Baruch S. […]

Rethinking Life on Earth and Beyond: Astrobiology and the Role of Paradigm Shifts in Science and Human Self-Understanding

Scientific discoveries have always had the potential to be contentious, and this has been especially true in phases of transition, when new areas of knowledge have been glimpsed but not yet fully explored, classified, or agreed upon. It is during these transitions that thick debates often ensue. Discoveries can sometimes be threatening because new evidence […]

Astrobiology and the Religious Imagination

In December, NASA announced that its Mars Curiosity rover measured a tenfold spike in methane in the martian atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory’s drill. Then last week, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft provided scientists clear evidence that Saturn’s moon Enceladus exhibits signs of present-day hydrothermal […]

Kinship and Scholarship: A Librarian and Scholar Find Books and Each Other

Astrobiologist David Grinspoon and science librarian Margaret “Peg” Clifton have such an easy rapport that all I had to do was ask an initial question, and the two proceeded to speak for 30 minutes–finishing each other’s sentences along the way. The two reflect on their relationship forged at the Library of Congress that helped Grinspoon […]