Christopher E. Carr, Sc.D.

Research Scientist


Life on Earth and Beyond?

Biology is all around us - New technologies are revolutionizing how we understand the limits of life on Earth & beyond.

Come see our booth this April!

Did you know?

  1. The building blocks of life can be found in space!

  2. Comets and meteors carried water and organic material to many planets in our solar system.

  3. Some large meteorite impacts transferred rocks between the planets, especially Earth and Mars.

  4. These impacts might have carried microbes between planets.

Detecting ATP

  1. ATP is the universal energy carrier of all known life.

  2. We swab a surface and add the swab to a mixture that uses ATP to generate light.

  3. Then we use a sensitive detector to measure how much light is generated.

  4. In 5-10 seconds, you can learn how much ATP (and microbes) might be hiding in plain sight.

Booth Details

  1. Biology is all around us, in the food we eat, the air we breathe and the objects we touch. New technologies such as sequencing are revolutionizing how we find, characterize, and understand the limits of life on Earth and, perhaps one day, beyond. Come join us as we dive into a secret world of cells.

  2. With our ATP detector, you'll discover organisms living on various surfaces, such as on your mobile phone. Or how dirty the kitchen counter might be.

  3. Just like microbes and our own bodies, our food is full of DNA. See for yourself by extracting this hereditary material from common fruits using only household supplies. Instructions

  4. Everyone is a biologist, when biology is everywhere. But is it? The building blocks of life, and perhaps life itself, may also exist beyond Earth, perhaps on Mars or beyond.

Isolating DNA

  1. DNA and its cousin RNA are the universal information carrying molecules of known life.

  2. Come mash up some of your favorite fruits and see DNA for yourself.

Brought to you by the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Genomes (SETG) project, funded by NASA.

What? Fun science activities.

Where? At the Science Carnival, Cambridge Public LIbrary, 449 Broadway, Cambridge MA.

When? Saturday, April 13, 2013, 12:00-4:00pm.

Our participation in the CSF has been delayed until 2014 due to a recently scheduled field study at Volcan Copahue, which has finally calmed down enough to let us visit. We hope to see you next year at the CSF!