Sunday Times 08.03.09
Three basic questions have fascinated and intrigued humanity for centuries, questions that are pivotal to the understanding and appreciation of our place in the Universe:
1. How did life begin and evolve on Earth?
2. What are the conditions under which life can exist?
3. Do conditions exist elsewhere in the Universe which may sustain life?
Indeed, the discovery of life, even in its simplest form, on a planet other than Earth would be a defining moment in human history, while understanding the origins of life itself would be a crowning achievement of human scientific endeavour.
Today, for the first time, it is possible to develop a realistic, rigorous scientific programme to address these questions and begin to provide answers to these fundamental questions.
Prof. Nigel Mason, founder of the Atomic, Molecular, Optical and Plasma (AMOP) physics group and a fellow of the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Royal Astronomical Society, is delivering a public talk entitled 'The Origin of Life: an enigma wrapped in mystery' on March 17 at 6 p.m. at Lecture Room 401, Physics Department, University of Malta, Msida. During the talk he will review the scientific progress and discuss some of the social-political consequences of research on this subject.