Evidence for Life in Space


Nineteenth Annual Darwin College Lecture Series 2004

Lecture 4   :   February 6th 2004

Monica Grady

Department of Mineralogy at the Natural History Museum. Honorary Reader in Geological Sciences at University College, London



Using the evidence of where life exists on Earth, and assuming that the rules of physics and chemistry still hold, Evidence for Life in Space?' explores the possibilities for life beyond the Earth. The lecture will consider how life originated on Earth, how it might be defined, or recognised, in the range of environments in which it can survive, and where those environments also might exist elsewhere in the cosmos. Although the lecture will mainly focus on micro-organisms, it will include a brief discussion of the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence.


Dr Monica Grady is Head of the Petrology and Meteoritics Division in the Department of Mineralogy at the Natural History Museum, and Honorary Reader in Geological Sciences at University College, London. She is based at the NHM, and carries out research on and curates our national collection of meteorites. Monica received an honours degree in Chemistry and Geology from the University of Durham in 1979, then went on to complete a Ph.D. on carbon in stony meteorites at Darwin College, Cambridge in 1982. Since then, Monica has continued to specialise in the study of meteorites, and carried out this research at Cambridge, then the Open University in Milton Keynes, prior to joining the Natural History Museum in 1991. Monica participated in field expeditions to Antarctica and to the Nullarbor region in Australia, to collect meteorites. Her particular research interests are in the fields of carbon and nitrogen stable isotope geochemistry of primitive meteorites and of martian meteorites, interstellar components in meteorites, micrometeorites, and also in astrobiology and the possibilities of life elsewhere in the cosmos. Her book on astrobiology, entitled "Search for Life" was published in 2001. Asteroid (4731) was named "Monicagrady" in her honour. She gave the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 2003, on the subject "A Voyage in Space and Time". Personal: age 45, married, one son, Jack (aged 13). 

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