Life in Outer Space

On this morning’s edition of Exploration, host Michio Kaku speaks with Dr. Robert Hazen, astrobiologist, about the premise of other life in outer space. Later, he chats to Dr. Carl Zimmer, the author of Evolution, about the evolution of species on Earth.

About the guests:

Dr. Robert M. Hazen, research scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Geophysical Laboratory and Clarence Robinson Professor of Earth Science at George Mason University, received the B.S. and S.M. in geology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1971), and the Ph.D. at Harvard University in earth science (1975). After studies as NATO Postdoctoral Fellow at Cambridge University in England, he joined the Carnegie Institution’s research effort.

       Hazen is author of more than 350 articles and 20 books on science, history, and music. A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he has received the Mineralogical Society of America Award (1982), the American Chemical Society Ipatieff Prize (1986), the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award (1989), the Educational Press Association Award (1992), the Elizabeth Wood Science Writing Award (1998), and the Distinguished Public Service Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America (2009). He has presented numerous named lectures at universities, and is currently Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer (2008-2010). He served as Distinguished Lecturer for the Mineralogical Society of America, and is a Past President of the Society. Hazen’s recent research focuses on the role of minerals in the origin of life, including such processes as mineral-catalyzed organic synthesis and the selective adsorption of organic molecules on mineral surfaces. He has also developed a new approach to mineralogy, called “mineral evolution,” which explores the co-evolution of the geo- and biospheres.
       In addition to his mineralogical research, he is Principal Investigator of the Deep Carbon Observatory (, which is a 10-year international effort to achieve fundamental advances in understanding the chemical and biological roles of carbon in Earth’s interior.
       Hazen’s books have received widespread critical praise. The Music Men, Wealth Inexhaustible, and Keepers of the Flame, all coauthored with his wife, Margaret Hindle Hazen, explore ties between technology and culture. The Breakthrough, The New Alchemists, Why Aren’t Black Holes Black, The Diamond Makers, and Genesis describe the forefront of scientific research. He has also written widely for popular audiences, including articles in Newsweek, Scientific American, Smithsonian Magazine, New Scientist and The New York Times Magazine. His writings have been selected for inclusion in several science writing anthologies, including The Best Science Writing of 2001.
Prof. Hazen is active in presenting science to a general audience. At George Mason University he has developed courses and companion texts on scientific literacy. His books with coauthor James Trefil include the best selling Science Matters: Achieving Scientific Literacy and The Sciences: An Integrated Approach, now in its fourth edition. Hazen also served on the team of writers for the National Science Education Standards. He teaches courses on symmetry in art and science, on images of the scientist in popular culture, and on scientific ethics. Hazen served on the Committee on Public Understanding of Science of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and on Advisory Boards for NOVA (WGBH Boston), Earth & Sky, Encyclopedia Americana, and the Carnegie Council. He appears frequently on radio and television programs on science, and he developed two popular video courses: The Joy of Science and The Origins of Life, both produced by The Teaching Company.
       In addition to his scientific activities, Robert Hazen is a professional trumpeter. He has performed with numerous ensembles including the Metropolitan, New York City, Boston, and Washington Operas, the Royal, Bolshoi, Jeoffrey, and Kirov Ballets, the Boston Symphony, the National Symphony, and the Orchestre de Paris. He is presently a member of the National Philharmonic, the Washington Bach Consort, and the National Gallery Orchestra.
       Robert and Margaret Hazen live in Glen Echo, Maryland.
Carl Zimmer (born 1966) is a popular science writer and blogger, especially regarding the study of evolution and parasites. He has written several books and contributes science essays to publications such as The New York Times, Discover, and National Geographic. He is a fellow at Yale University‘s Morse College.

Besides his popular science writing, Zimmer also gives frequent lectures, and has appeared on many radio shows, including National Public Radio‘s Radiolab, Fresh Air and This American Life. He has won many awards, including the 2007 National Academies Communication Award, a prize for science communication from the United States National Academy of Sciences, for his wide-ranging coverage of biology and evolution in newspapers, magazines and his blog, “The Loom”. In 2009 and 2010 he was host of the periodic audio podcast Meet the Scientist of the American Society for Microbiology (replacing Merry Buckley).

Zimmer received his B.A. in English from Yale University in 1987. In 1989, Zimmer started at Discover magazine, first as a copy editor and fact checker, eventually becoming a contributing editor.


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