• in response to “Why Astrobiology”

    Shawn here: the following is a comment made by Julia DeMarines on Dimitra’s post on “Why Astrobiology.” Betül asked Julia to re-post is as a “PaleBlue.you” entry… beating me to the punch, as I was going to ask her to do the same thing. Anyways, here’s one good, enthusiastic take on “why astrobiology.”

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    Betül Arslan (a friend, colleague and Pale Blue Blogger) has requested that I re-post my response to Dimitra Atri’s post earlier this week. Because I think she is totally rad, I complied. Enjoy!

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    Hey Dimitra!

    A very well written post!

    I study astrobiology for a number of reasons.. The first is because i’m curious. I’m curious about myself.. and why I ‘woke up’ on this rock called Earth at this exciting period in time. I’m curious about the bigger picture…  of life in the Universe. especially the question -if life did evolve elsewhere, would we ever be able to detect it?

    What fascinates me especially, is the recent knowledge (and when I say recent, I mean in the last few decades) that life (as we know it) has little secrets about it.. little tricks.. that can act as clues to finding it in the cosmos (such as chirality). I wish to contribute to understanding some of these clues in hopes to advance the field, if even just a little bit.

    I study astrobiology because I want to know if we are a fluke, or if life is a common product of the evolution of hydrogen and helium over a long period of time. I’m sure many of my fellow astrobiologist share these same curiosities so I am probably preaching to the choir!

    When I realized Astrobiology was a legitimate science.. (aka when I was watching Contact for the first time with braces when I was 13 or so) i thought, “you have GOT to be kidding me” and then i never looked back. From this ongoing journey, i have encountered some of the most like-minded and incredible people I have ever met and have travelled to some of the most beautiful places on this planet to discuss Astrobiology. These are certainly ‘pluses’ to being in the field, and they certainly reinforce my sustained interest.. if not accelerating it. An astrobiology snow-ball effect if you will.

    The more we dig deeper into these fundamental questions of life in the cosmos, the more questions we have and the more beautiful and mysterious life becomes. This is truly what I love about astrobiology. The humbling effect that it has, putting us mere mortals in awe that we even exist at all. Now, how wonderful would the world be if everyone thought like astrobiologist? A world where we would be excited to wake up everyday and collaborate with humans across the globe, just to make sense of our existence.

    Perhaps I am dreaming about an astrobiology utopia.. but it’s a dream that keeps me awake and keeps me pushing onwards.

    To me, it’s the sexiest of the sciences.. and if it were in high school.. it would TOTALLY sit at the cool kids table (but it would also let everyone sit at the table.. because astrobiolgy is all encompassing).

    So… yeah.. now that you think I’ve tattooed “I LOVE ASTROBIOLOGY” across my forehead, hopefully my point was conveyed of why I study astrobiology… haha!  I’m curious, it feels right, the people you meet and the places you go are just amazing and it unites a slough of subjects as well as people across the globe. Boo ya.

    P.S. I’d be super psyched when the spell check recognizes the word Astrobiology!