Announcement: 2020 Life in the Universe Symposium co-hosted by PAST

Announcement: 2020 Life in the Universe Symposium co-hosted by PAST

Announcement: 2020 Life in the Universe Symposium co-hosted by PAST with exclusive public premiere of ‘I See You’ – a theatmentary exploring the relevance of the origins sciences in promoting the value of biological and social diversity.


We are excited to send out this announcement and ask you to register.

The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory in partnership with Breakthrough Initiatives, the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) and the Palaeontological Scientific Trust (PAST), are pleased to invite you to attend the 2020 Life in the Universe Symposium.


This two day, multi-disciplinary symposium will be an online event taking place on the4th and 5th of November 2020.

The symposium will feature speakers from across the globe including USA, Europe and Africa covering topics such as astronomical searches for exoplanets and techno- and biosignatures of life, the origins of life on Earth, and biochemical and palaeontological topics.

Due to the time restrictions necessary to allow participation from very different time zones, this year’s conference will feature only invited speakers, but with lots of time for discussion.

Provisional list of Speakers:
Lord Martin Rees – Opening plenary
Dr Pete Worden – The Breakthrough Initiatives
Prof Andrew Siemion – Techno- and bio-signatures
Prof Jane Greaves – The discovery of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus
Prof Barbara Lollar – Ancient groundwaters and the implications for habitability of Earth and other planets and moons
Prof Michael Hecht – Synthetic biology and the possibility of other forms of genes and proteins for sustainable life
Prof Ignas Snellen – Exoplanets
Prof Mary Voytek – NExSS
Dr Pierre Durand – Evolutionary origins of the first proto-cells and the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA)
Dr Jaganmoy Jodder – The earliest fossilised evidence of prokaryote life and eukaryogenesis
Prof Robert Blumenschine – Hominid evolution in Africa and the emergence of human intelligence
Dr Petri Vaisanen – SA Astronomical Observatory facilities and opportunities for exoplanet and transient word.

“I See You” (a theamentary) produced by PAST

To register for the symposium please visit our website:
Registration closes on 2 November 2020.

The final speaker program will be published on the website soon.