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Ingenious: Caleb Scharf

How our view of the universe, and ourselves, is changing.

What inspired a boy who grew up in the English countryside to study astronomy? Looking up at the starry night sky, of course. But…By Kevin Berger

What inspired a boy who grew up in the English countryside to study astronomy? Looking up at the starry night sky, of course. But you have to hear Caleb Scharf tell the story himself – tell how his boyhood curiosity led to his current position as Director of the Columbia Astrobiology Center, a consortium of Columbia University, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and the American Museum of Natural History. During his recent visit to the Nautilus office, Scharf illuminated the state of research into astrobiology and exoplanets, and reflected on the probability of life beyond Earth. Be sure to read his essay in this issue, “Goodbye Copernicus, Hello Universe,” which details the changing face of the universe and our place in it.

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Where did you grow up? 0:07
How did you get into science? 0:58
What first fired your curiosity? 2:40
What inspired you to study astronomy? 4:16
What is Astrobiology? 6:55
What is an exoplanet? 8:12
What do so many exoplanets mean? 11:39

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