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In the next philosophy salon of our series it will be our great pleasure to take a break from hectic Christmas preparations and spend a few relaxed moments of discussion with Prof. Caleb Scharf, who is the director of astrobiology at Columbia University. Prof. Scharf is not only a distinguished academic, but well known beyond academia as he is regularly promoting science to a general audience through numerous publications and appearances on TV.
Prof. Scharf will inspire the conversation with a short input talk, while most of the salon will be dedicated to a casual discussion among all the participants. As the holidays are approaching we will have a chance to reflect on our significance in a cosmos that escapes (quite literally) our imagination and may put our daily sorrows in perspective a bit. We will talk about the Big Bang, chances of life in the universe, and ask ourselves where we fit in all of this. Before dispersing to our holiday preparations, we may even have a chance to ask what the Star of Bethlehem may have been about.
Born and educated in England, Prof. Scharf holds a B.Sc. in physics from Durham University and a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. He has worked at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center before becoming a researcher at Columbia University where he now is the director of astrobiology. Interested participants may read some of his books, most recently “The Zoomable Universe: An Epic Tour Through Cosmic Scale, from Almost Everything to Nearly Nothing”, but this is by no means required or expected for the purpose of our conversation!