S.A.G.A.N.: The grassroots astrobiology social network

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Are we alone in the universe? How did life begin? Will the human civilization expand out into the solar system (and beyond)? How can we achieve long-term sustainability on our home planet? These are some of the greatest scientific and societal questions of our time. These questions are great because they are much bigger than any one of us individually, and inspire awe and admiration for our humble place in the cosmos. In the words of Carl Sagan:

Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.

The big questions may humble us, but they also inspire us to be a part of something much bigger than ourselves. It is the only way we can hope to answer such grand questions. But where do you as an individual start? The critical step is to find a community to engage with and leverage collective talents, passions, and resources to truly become something that is more than the sum of its parts. S.A.G.A.N. (Social Action for a Grassroots Astrobiology Network) – saganet.org – was founded in 2012 with the mission of promoting scientific conversation and literacy among members of the public and the scientific community.

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S.A.G.A.N. is therefore a social network with a purpose, whose mission is to provide a space for tackling the big questions and exploring our cosmos together.

Approaching its first year anniversary, S.A.G.A.N. has over 600 members who share a common interest in the science of astrobiology (the study of life and its place in the cosmos), space exploration, and sustainability. If you haven’t logged in, and are interested in astrobiology, space exploration, or science in general you definitely want to check it out. There’s a lot to do on the site. You can catch weekly seminars broadcast from Arizona State University, the SETI Institute, and Stockholm University, or participate in a live chat with world-renowned astrobiologists such as David Grinspoon, Paul Davies, and Kathryn Denning in the monthly “Talk to an Astrobiologist”.

But with all of these cool events, the core of S.A.G.A.N. is really its membership who engages in a lot of activities through common-interest groups established by members on the site. Group range from the international (with representation from Africa, to Australia, to Europe, to North and South America), to outreach and education projects aimed at bringing science to schools, to fun activities like book clubs and science-philosophy discussion groups. And, if you don’t find a group you like, you can always start your own! You can even find mentors on the site who will help guide you through navigating the wide-world of science and provide advice on possible career paths.

You can join S.A.G.A.N. by visiting saganet.org. Check out the site, and if you have any questions feel free to contact us as the site administrators. We hope to see you on S.A.G.A.N. soon!

 

Sara, Sanjoy, Betul, Julia, Grasshopper and Zach


Did you know? S.A.G.A.N. was started following discussions at AbGradCon 2011, a conference for astrobiology students and postdocs. This year, AbGradCon takes place at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Check it out at http://abgradcon.org!

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