Klara joined the Working Group on Astrobioethics

I feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity to become one of the SOC members of the International WG on Astrobioethics.

One of the main tasks of the Working Group will be to analyse the potential societal and ethical implications related to astrobiology, taking into account the complexity of the connections between its main scientific issues and goals (see, for instance, the NASA Astrobiology Institute Astrobiology Roadmap), and considering the synergies between both bioethical and geoethical approaches (from microbes to humans and from the Earth to space environments). To find out more and keep up with the latest news please like the International Working Group on Astrobioethics Facebook page.

The International Association on Geoethics is the only organisation linking geosciences and ethics, which incorporates in its official definition the significance of astrobiology: “Studies on planetary geology (sensu lato) and astrobiology also require a geoethical approach”. For more please see the IAGETH definition of geoethics.

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Klara’s dissertation now available online

The abstract and full-text of my doctoral dissertation, ‘The Charming Science of the Other: The cultural analysis of science in search for life beyond earth‘ is now available to download from Durham e-Theses.

Abstract: This dissertation presents the cultural study of scientific search for extraterrestrial life conducted over the past sixty years by the scientific community. It introduces an original piece of research that conceptualises the extraterrestrial life hypothesis as a significant part of the general world-view, constantly shaped by the work and discoveries of science. It sheds light on the ways in which alien life is imagined and theorised and presents its concept in both the scientific community and in popular culture. Drawing from anthropology of science it offers elaboration of ‘culture of science’ and ‘scientific culture’ and describes the scientific search for other life as a specific culture of science, here referred to as ‘charming science’. The three scientific search methods: message sending, analysing of cosmic signals and the search for extrasolar planets are conceptualised as the three search modes: messaging, listening and exploring respectively.

This work introduces the extraterrestrial ‘Other’ as a profoundly cultural concept, firstly presented as the missing subject of ‘charming science’. Exploration of public understanding the extraterrestrial life and popular imagination of the ‘Other’ is intended to introduce the scientific search in broader social context and address the role of science in contemporary Western world. The dissertation draws on the multi-sited and multi-method ethnographic fieldwork conducted over two years in the UK. The research methods included interviewing (semi-structured face-to-face interviews and interviews conducted via email), participation (conferences and scientific meetings), and data collection from the global ‘online’ community including social networks.

Keywords: science, extraterrestrial life, three modes, messaging, listening, exploring, anthropology of science, cultural analysis, multi-method research, multi-sited fieldwork, visual anthropology, popular culture, cultural formations, scientific practices, SETI, astrobiology, Other, cosmology, Western world, culture of science, scientific culture

Deathless Hopes: Reinventions of Afterlife and Eschatological Beliefs

The ‘Deathless Hopes’ conference will examine the subject of eschatology in Jewish and Christian traditions from an international and interdisciplinary perspective. Issues such as the hope of resurrection, apocalyptic scenarios, and cosmic redemption have been a hotbed of religious invention, renewal, and innovation with significant social consequences. Hosted by Oranim Academic College of Education in Tivon, Israel, the conference is funded by a Lautenschlaeger Symposium Grant.

I am very much looking forward to delivering my talk entitled ‘Technoscientific Afterlives: The New Cultural Practices and the Realm of Post-Modern Spirituality.’ Conference schedule is available to download from Fuller Theological Seminary website. For more information about the Fuller Theological Seminary please see Fuller Theological Seminary latest news or go to events page.

CLNR Report: Energy Practices and Flexibility

CLNR Report Domestic Customers: Energy Practices and Flexibility is now available to download.

This paper provides a synopsis of the research findings produced by the social science team at Durham University in collaboration with the engineering research team at Durham and Newcastle Universities.

Authors: Klara Anna Capova, Gareth Powells, Harriet Bulkeley and Steve Lyon, Durham University.

Klara’s Talk at a SETI Workshop

Would humans be able to decode information-rich signals from another planet? Could we create a “universal language” that would be meaningful to an independently evolved civilization? To help answer these questions, on November 10-11 the SETI Institute will convene a multidisciplinary, international workshop at its headquarters in Mountain View, California. Speakers from six countries will draw on disciplines ranging from astronomy and mathematics, to anthropology and linguistics, as they debate the best ways to create meaningful messages. While the two-day workshop is closed to the public, all talks will later be posted on the SETI Institute’s Youtube channel.

Universe Today: Report on the Communicating Across the Cosmos workshop Part 3 Bridging the Vast Gulf

Paul Patton opens the third part of the report by saying: “If extraterrestrial civilizations exist, the nearest is probably at least hundreds or thousands of light years away. Still, the greatest gulf that we will have to bridge to communicate with extraterrestrials is not such distances, but the gulf between human and alien minds. In mid-November, the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California sponsored an academic conference on interstellar communication, “Communicating across the Cosmos“. The conference drew 17 speakers from a variety of disciplines, including linguistics, anthropology, archeology, mathematics, cognitive science, radio astronomy, and art. In this installment we will explore some of the formidable difficulties that humans and extraterrestrials might face in constructing mutually comprehensible interstellar messages.”

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To read full article go to Communicating Across the Cosmos, Part 3: Bridging the Vast Gulf.

NASA Astrobiology Conference 2012: Abstract and Poster

The poster abstract ‘The Detection of Extraterrestrial Life – Are We Ready?’ for AbSciCon – NASA Astrobiology Science Conference 2012: Exploring Life: Past and Present, Near and Far is available online.

Abstract Body: The paper offers a novel perspective on the scientific search for life beyond Earth, based on the ‘outsiders’ point of view approach that anthropology of sciences has proposed. It sheds light on the ways in which alien life is imagined and theorised in order to assess the possible reaction of scientific community and general opinion to the detection of other life forms.

The papers is based on the findings of my PhD research that conceptualises the extraterrestrial life hypothesis as a significant part of the general world-view, constantly shaped by the work and discoveries of science. It draws from the ethnographic fieldwork conducted over two years in the UK that combined interviews with scientists (astrobiologists, physicists, and astronomers) with data collected from the global ‘online’ community. On the base of this data, the paper offers an insight into the current concepts of other life as understood, perceived, and interpreted by the scientific community and popular culture. Go to AbSciCon NASA website to continue reading …