From exploring planets beyond our solar system to researching exterrestrial life, Cornell’s new undergraduate minor in astrobiology, to be debuted next semester, will allow students interested in both astronomy and biology to study the “origins of life and life existing beyond the Earth,” according to Prof. Nikole Lewis, astronomy.
Where can you find the tomb of a secret society built into the side of a cliff, a building with no doors or windows and a secret research laboratory beneath a waterfall? No, it isn’t Hogwarts, it’s here in Ithaca on your way to class, by the road on your way home. Cornell’s campus has more secrets than a Dan Brown book: a closer look at some of the mysterious architecture around Ithaca reveals that the glossy brochure pictures of the Arts Quad are just the tip of a strange, strange iceberg. Some legends remain mysteries (catacombs beneath Sage Chapel, a secret exit from Uris) while others have been confirmed — you can walk through a tunnel between Olin and Uris on Slope Day, and the Cornell Synchotron accelerates particles under your feet while you run at Barton Hall.
This past Friday, Ann Druyan, wife of the late Cornell astronomer Carl Sagan and an accomplished writer, producer and science publicist in her own right, spoke to a small audience in Annabel Taylor Auditorium. Her talk touched on several topics, ranging from the interplay between science and religion to the fate of the 1977 Voyager spacecrafts, but focused around a central theme: Sagan’s visits with the Dalai Lama in 1991.
Druyan’s talk was part of a series of events commemorating the Dalai Lama’s current visit to Cornell, which will culminate in a series of talks by the Buddhist leader on Oct. 6 and 8.