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Event to discuss astronomy, synthetic biology and Star Trek

Star Trek tricorder toy
October 30, 2013

How will humans explore space in the future? How will we conduct research and generate new knowledge as we travel among the stars? What is the definition of “life”? What are our ethical obligations to the thinking, feeling beings that we might create? And just how scientifically accurate is "Star Trek: The Next Generation?"

At 8 p.m., Nov. 8, Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination will ask these questions and others during a free event featuring astronomer, lecturer, author and blogger Phil Plait, also known as “The Bad Astronomer,” and Karmella Haynes, a synthetic biology researcher at ASU’s School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering.

The event, titled “'Star Trek: The Next Generation' with 'The Bad Astronomer' Phil Plait,” will take place at Armstrong Hall, room 113 – the “Great Hall” at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. To RSVP, visit the CSI website

After a screening of the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episode “Evolution,” Ed Finn, director of the Center for Science and the Imagination, will moderate a conversation with Plait and Haynes about the scientific and technological, as well as social and cultural, issues brought up by the episode. The conversation will be followed by a question-and-answer session and general discussion.

“Great science fiction universes like 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' function as unique meeting places for people from very different backgrounds to have thoughtful conversations about the future,” says Finn. “The 'Star Trek' universe is especially exciting because it avoids gloomy, dystopian thinking and presents an optimistic vision of a future universe that we might actually want to live in.”

The event is co-sponsored by SpaceVision, the largest student-organized space conference in the United States. SpaceVision 2013 will be taking place at Arizona State University from November 7-10. The conference is co-sponsored by ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration and Center for Science and the Imagination, along with a number of external supporters. SpaceVision 2013 features an Opening Keynote address from Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” as well as a host of other exciting speakers. To learn more about SpaceVision, visit