Life on Mars? A short history of C19th exploration

October 1, 2021


Humans have long been intrigued by the possibility that Mars might harbour life. Planetary scientists nowadays continue to hunt for evidence of it, and space technologists even advocate settling ourselves there permanently.

In this recording of a live talk, Dr Joshua Nall, Curator of Modern Sciences at the University of Cambridge’s Whipple Museum of the History of Science, looks back before looking forward, to consider how humans studied and thought about Mars before the Space Age.

Investigating 19th century arguments over whether the red planet was teeming with intelligent life, and exploring fantastical stories about what that life might do to us, reveals important lessons for how we understand the next century of Martian exploration.

Image (c) Whipple Museum, University of Cambridge (Wh. 6211)

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