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Where did the building blocks of life come from? Are all forms of life found only on our planet? If it’s just us in this universe, says science writer Marc Kaufman, it’s a terrible waste of space.

In the last 20 or so years, scientists have discovered life forms or “extremophiles” no one could have imagined except in science fiction. From the nematodes (worms) and microbes discovered living more than a mile below the surface of the Earth, to possible fossilized microbes in Martian meteorites, the burgeoning field of astrobiology has its work cut out for it.

This evening, Marc Kaufman is joined by geomicrobiologist and Princeton University professor Tullis Onstott and NASA astrobiologist Danny Glavin, who reveal the latest research from the deepest underground caves in South Africa, and from meteorites that may have well delivered the building blocks of life—and maybe even life itself—from afar. What we find here on Earth informs and has implications for life on Mars and the origin of life itself.

Kaufman is a science writer for The Washington Post. His book, First Contact: Scientific Breakthroughs in the Hunt for Life Beyond Earth (Simon and Schuster) is available for signing after the program.

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