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‘Science Friday’ at ASU: Cosmology, astrobiology and the origins of life

April 03, 2009

What we know and don’t know about life on Earth was one of many provocative topics discussed during NPR’s “Science Friday” with host Ira Flatow, broadcast live from Arizona State University April 3.

The broadcast of the popular weekly science talk show was part of the Origins Symposium at ASU, April 3-6, organized by Lawrence Krauss. In addition to his role as director of ASU’s Origins Initiative, Krauss is a professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences where he is a faculty member in the Physics Department and the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Krauss was one of four guests during the first hour of the radio program that dealt with big questions in cosmology. Others on the panel included Michael Turner, a theoretical astrophysicist and professor at the University of Chicago; Brian Greene, a professor of mathematics and physics at Columbia University; and Steven Weinberg, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin, and recipient of the 1979 Nobel Prize in physics.

Two ASU faculty members and two other scientists joined Flatow for the second hour of the show, this time discussing astrobiology and the origins of life. From Arizona State University were Ariel Anbar, an associate professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, who is a principal investigator on the NASA Astrobiology Institute team at ASU; and Paul Davies, a professor, renowned cosmologist and theoretical physicist in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Joining them were Peter Ward, a professor of biology and Earth and space sciences at the University of Washington; and Baruch “Barry” Blumberg, founding director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute and recipient of the 1976 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

In addition to “Science Friday,” Flatow is slated to moderate a panel of six Nobel Laureates during the public Origins Symposium, April 6, at ASU Gammage. Details about the public symposium, which will be accessible through a live captioned webcast, are at

A podcast of the “Science Friday” broadcast, and additional information, are at