These minerals are our #1 clue for the existence of other lifeforms | Robert Hazen

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This interview is an episode from ‪@The-Well‬, our publication about ideas that inspire a life well-lived, created with the ‪@JohnTempletonFoundation‬.

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According to leading mineralogist Bob Hazen, minerals may hold the key for discovering if we actually are alone in the universe. He highlights how Earth’s dramatic increase in mineral diversity—from 2000 to over 6000 types—aligned with the emergence of life, which drastically altered our planet’s atmosphere and chemical processes.

Knowing this, scientists can now look for specific clues in minerals as they study other planets. If another planet, such as Mars, were to have similar biosignatures, it could be a clear indicator that it harbored life at some point in time.

This method would not only help us discover if life existed on other planets, but, depending on the specific similarities, could tell us how closely this life resembled our own, and could prove how unique humanity truly is.

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About Robert Hazen:

Robert Hazen is a renowned American mineralogist and geologist, known for his pioneering work in mineral evolution and mineral ecology. He is a Senior Staff Scientist at the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory and a Professor of Earth Sciences at George Mason University.

Hazen has written over 400 articles and 25 books, contributing research as a profound leader in mineral evolution and mineral ecology. His studies delve into the complex interactions between minerals and life, contributing to our understanding of Earth’s history and the potential for life on other planets. Hazen is also a passionate educator and science communicator.


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