Scientists Get Serious about Extraterrestrials

Article excerpt

The first woman to deliver one of Britain's most prestigious scientific lectures believes that we are not alone in the universe.

Dr Monica Grady's talk at the Natural History Museum, London, last night was devoted to the possible existence of extraterrestrial life.

A few years ago such a topic would have been unthinkable as a suitable subject for the museum's Annual Science Lecture. But the young science of exobiology, in which Dr Grady is an expert, is now a respectable part of the scientific establishment.

Dr Grady, one of the museum's leading earth scientists and a world authority on meteorites, gave a talk entitled Are We Alone?.

Her involvement in exobiology, the study of life on other planets, started after the American space agency Nasa announced three years ago that it had found traces of extinct microbial life in a meteorite originating from Mars.

That discovery has since been widely discredited by experts. But many scientists, including Dr Grady, believe there is every chance of primitive life being found elsewhere in the Solar System.

Leeds-born Dr Grady, head of the Natural History Museum's petrology and meteorites department, said: "It's a subject that has really begun to come together over the past few years. …