UofT AstroTour: Special Earth Hour Event – Where Captain Nemo Got it Right, and Wrong – Life in the Deep Earth

Paradise Cave in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Paradise Cave in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park
Saturday, March 24, 2018 -
7:00pm to 10:00pm

Speaker: Prof. Barbara Sherwood Lollar

From Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo, to Astronaut Mark Watney stranded on Mars, we remain fascinated by the theme of Exploration. Fact can be stranger than fiction however as we discover that even here on Earth, there are parts of the planet we have only begun to probe for new habitable domains and microbial ecosystems.

Today we will journey with explorers past, present and future as we descend into some of the places on Earth where life ekes out an existence far from the energy of sunlight. We will discuss microorganisms that draw their energy for life not from the sun but from the power of chemistry in the deep dark places of the Earth – in subsurface habitats ranging from the black smoker vents of the ocean’s hydrothermal fields, to deep fracture waters bubbling up 3 km below the surface of northern Canada and in the gold mines of South Africa. What does exploration of Earth’s subsurface habitats tell us about the search for habitability (and life) on Mars or on the moons of Saturn and Jupiter?

About the Speaker
Dr. Sherwood Lollar is a professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Toronto, director of the Stable Isotope Laboratory, a Companion to the Order of Canada, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and a Canada Research Chair. She studies the chemistry of ancient water deep underground to learn about how microbial life interacts with and thrives in such extreme environments. This work can help to understand how life has evolved on Earth and guide the search for life beyond our planet.

The U of T Astronomy Public Tour, or AstroTour, is a monthly event operated by the graduate students of the U of T Astronomy Department. The Tour features a public lecture by a member of the Department on topics ranging from their research to great moments in astronomical history. Following the lecture, tour-goers can peer at the night sky through the Department’s balcony and dome telescopes, or watch a planetarium show run live by astronomer. Admission to the tour is free. Seating for the lecture is on a first-come, first-served basis (doors open ten minutes before the start of the lecture), and the telescope observing is walk-in.

Who can attend: Everyone
Fee: Free
Reservations: Only required for Planetarium Shows
Organized by: Graduate Astronomy Students Association. The AstroTours are generously financed by the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics and the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Location: Earth Sciences Centre (5 Bancroft Avenue and 33 Willcocks Street, Room ES1050, University of Toronto)