The Pontifical Academy of Science has concluded a five-day study week devoted to the emerging field of astrobiology, the scientific study of extraterrestrial life.
“This is a quite appropriate topic for the academy, which has a multidisciplinary membership, since it is a field which combines research in many disciplines, principally astronomy, cosmology, biology, chemistry, geology and physics,” said Father José Funes, SJ, director of the Vatican Observatory.
Participants agreed that the discovery of any other sentient life forms in the universe would raise fascinating philosophical questions, but the conference was devoted to the scientific aspects of the hunt for life. The interdisciplinary conference, involving 30 scientists from research institutes around the world, explored issues such as the origins of life, the elements necessary for the emergence of life forms, and the exploration of distant planets that could be searched for signs of life.
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