Last updated on April 19, 2014 at 13:20 EDT

NASA Astrobiologist to Discuss Our Place in the Universe

October 22, 2013

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The public is invited to a free lecture called “Our Place in the Universe – Cosmology from the Ancient Greeks to Today” to be held at the Library of Congress. The lecture will be given by NASA astrobiologist Michelle Thaller on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 11:30 a.m. EDT in the Pickford Theater of the Library of Congress’s Madison building.

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“As a scientist, I am always amazed at the audacity that we claim, in any real way, to understand the nature of the universe,” Thaller said. “We know our history. We understand that it has only been a few thousand years since we had any idea of the scale of our own planet, only a few brief centuries since we invented the telescope.

“Ancient Greeks had sophisticated gear-controlled astronomical ‘computers,’ which remained unrivaled in accuracy and complexity until the genius of 18th-century clockmakers. Standing on the shoulders of these giants, how far does our gaze extend today, with the advent of space-based observatories and supercomputers? We’ve mapped our position relative to millions of other galaxies covering billions of light years of distance. We now understand, astoundingly, that the vast majority of the universe is not composed of the same kind of matter that makes our bodies, planet and galaxies. Come find out just how much we know, and how much we don’t know, about our place in the universe.”

Thaller is a nationally recognized spokesperson for astronomy and science. By training she is an astrobiologist, but her job title is the assistant director of science for communication at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. She speaks to members of Congress and their staffs regularly, as well as international embassy staff and internal NASA policy-makers. Thaller has received numerous high-profile awards for her work, including the Robert Goddard Award, the Women in Aerospace Award and induction into the Space Camp Hall of Fame.

“Our Place in the Universe – Cosmology from the Ancient Greeks to Today” will be the conclusion of the seventh year of the Library’s partnership in hosting lectures with NASA Goddard. Planning is underway for the 2014 series, which will feature topics on Earth and space sciences.

For the past seven years, this lecture series has been jointly organized by the Library’s Science, Technology, and Business Division and by NASA. The Library of Congress maintains one of the largest and most diverse collections of scientific and technical information in the world. For more information about the Science, Technology and Business Division, visit www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/. The Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world and holds nearly 151.8 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats.

For inquiries about this or upcoming talks at the Library of Congress, the public can contact the LOC Science, Technology and Business Division at 202-707-5664. ADA accommodations should be requested five business days in advance at 202-707-6382 (voice/tty) or ada@loc.gov.

For more information about NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, visit:



Source: PR Newswire