Necessary Ingredients: Exploring the Origins of Life

Dr. Tom Rice will discuss astronomy and the origins of life on Thursday, March 3, at 7:00 pm in the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum’s Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium.


In his lecture, Rice will explore one of astronomy’s most pressing issues—how the ingredients necessary for life, nitrogen and carbon, become part of terrestrial worlds like the Earth during planet formation.


Astronomical disputes about the source of these elements follow from the observation that because nitrogen carriers in the interstellar medium are extremely volatile, the building-blocks of terrestrial worlds should be extremely poor in nitrogen.


Rice will examine how scientists have tried to respond to this problem and what their theories mean for our understanding of life. He will also share how the analysis of protostellar sources can provide useful clues in our attempts to solve this cosmic mystery.

Rice, a Columbia University Science Fellow, is a visiting scientist at the American Museum of Natural History. A first-generation college student at Harvard University (2008-2012), he received his Ph.D. in astronomy in 2019 from the University of Michigan.


An evening stargazing event will follow the lecture, weather permitting.


Members $5 | Non-Members $15