018 – Astrobiology at the NASA Astrobiology Institute
This episode is a conversation with Dr. Carl Pilcher, the director of the NASA Astrobiology Insititute at NASA Ames Research Center. The conversation comes in two parts. Part one covers the conceptual basics of astrobiology and life: what is life, what are the preconditions for life to exist, how to recognize it, etc. Part two looks at the process of trying to find places in the universe that could host life, primarily astronomical observations and missions to other planets.
- About the NASA Astrobiology Insititute and Carl Pilcher, its director (at the bottom)
- The NAI Director’s Seminar, a collection of video presentations on astrobiology
- Wikipedia’s pages on life and astrobiology
- The SETI Institute and their Podcast
- Astronomycast, the podcast about astronomy
Another great interview on a great topic! Keep up the good work!
It’s kind of crass of us to think that we know what life we will find in space. Space …infinite… with the infinite possibility of life that we can’t even imagine. I hope you mean human life.
Sorry, but I feel that we are still arrogant and we need to grow up.
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Back to catching up on past episodes.
Regrettably this was the first podcast that I did rated less than 5/5. This was solely because of the interviewer not giving you enough opportunity to conduct the interview as well as you have proven to do with all the other I have had the pleasure of listening to. Although Dr Pilcher may have respectable qualifications and experience he came across as more of a politician if you know what I mean. I was particularly put off when he answered a plain straightforward question is a lot of complicated jargon and scientific babble. That indicates either an arrogant nature or a defensive manoeuvre by someone who doesn’t know the answer. Given that the question was fairly straight forward and Dr Pilcher ought to know the answer then him not understanding the question indicates that he is not a very good listener. This was also manifested throughout the interview when he interrupted and talked over you. Sorry but that’s how it came across.
On a more pleasant note, I was delighted to have heard the musical interludes. They, somehow, give an interview a more pleasant experience. Sort of like cushions. If you bring back music into your interviews then I suggest you not tack them onto the end where they are left dangling; insert them into the talk itself.
Sad to hear that you didn’t like that one. I have to admit I don’t remember it that well anymore, so I can’t even really say whether I had the same feelings as you when I did the interview. On a more general note, one problem when dealing with organisations such as NASA is that you don’t even know ahead of time who you’ll be able to talk to specifically. So it is hard to know in advance whether the person is technical or more political.