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David Grinspoon: The Human Role in Earth Evolution

David Grinspoon is an astrobiologist who studies the possible conditions for life on other planets. In November 2012, he began a one-year appointment as the inaugural Baruch S. Blumberg/NASA Chair in Astrobiology at the John W. Kluge Center of the United States Library of Congress, where he is researching and writing a book about the human influence on Earth, seen in cosmic perspective.

In a recent interview David said: "The Anthropocene Epoch concept has slowly emerging in science. Even as a kid enthralled with science fiction, I wondered about the role of people in the long term evolution of the Earth, the far future and the fate of humanity. And thinking about advanced life elsewhere in the universe also leads us back to wonder about how long a civilization can last, which raises the same questions. In my PhD thesis, written in 1989, I discussed the fact that when a civilization develops the technology to prevent catastrophic asteroid impacts it marks a significant moment in the evolution of the planet. I speculate about what the coming of  "intelligence" and "civilization" mean for Earth and other planets."

Grinspoon was awarded the 2006 Carl Sagan Medal for Public Communication of Planetary Science by the American Astronomical Society. His first book, Venus Revealed, was a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist.  His 2004 book, Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life won the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Research Nonfiction. Grinspoon's popular writing has appeared in Slate, Scientific American, Natural History, The Sciences, Astronomy, Seed, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and Sky & Telescope Magazine where he is a contributing editor and writes the monthly "Cosmic Relief" column. Dr. Grinspoon has been featured on dozens of television and radio shows. His technical papers have been published in Nature, Science, and numerous other journals, and he has given invited talks at international conferences throughout the U.S., Europe, Australia and Japan.

David is Curator of Astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, and Adjunct Professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Science at the University of Colorado. He is a frequent advisor to NASA on space exploration strategy, and is Co-Investigator on an instrument that is currently operating on the Curiosity Rover on Mars. He serves as Interdisciplinary Scientist on the European Space Agency's Venus Express spacecraft, which is currently in orbit around Venus.