Rice launches look at humanity’s future in space

NASA, academic experts to discuss exploration and imagination at Scientia conference

The Rice Space Institute (RSI), Rice University Scientia and Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy will host a Scientia conference titled “Space Exploration and Human Imagination: Space Futures” April 11 and 12 at Baker Hall’s International Conference Facility.

Space exploration conference“The idea behind the conference is to examine the broader nature of the impact of space exploration on humanity’s changing perception of itself,” said conference creator and RSI Director David Alexander.  “We have been a space-faring species for a little over 50 years, a blink of the eye in human history, but it has profoundly changed how we view the world and our relationship to it.”

The event will be split into three sessions. The first on Thursday morning will focus on the impact of space exploration on understanding humanity’s place in the universe and will feature Mario Livio, senior astrophysicist at the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute; Cindy Evans, NASA’s deputy manager of the Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office and ISS Associate Program Manager for Earth Observations; and Jacques Arnould, ethics adviser to the French Space Academy.

The second session on Thursday afternoon will examine the cultural changes in space exploration with Asif Siddiqi, an associate professor of history at Fordham University; Leslie Gertsch, an associate professor of geological engineering at Missouri S&T; and Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom, vice president of operations at Singularity University and former director of operations at Space Adventures Ltd.

The final session on Friday morning will explore the expansion of humanity’s presence in space with W. Patrick McCray, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara; Laurie Leshin, dean of the school of science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; and James Kasting, a professor of geosciences at Penn State University.

The conference will begin with the introduction of the Rice student winner of a video competition titled “Why Space?”

Scientia is an institute of Rice University faculty founded in 1981 by the mathematician and historian of science Salomon Bochner. The lecture series provides an opportunity for scholarly discussion across disciplinary boundaries; its members and fellows come from a wide range of academic disciplines. For more information on Scientia, visit http://scientia.rice.edu.


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