Astrobiology: The Rise and Fall of a Nascent Science

Lawrence M. Kraus in Quillette:

I remember attending a symposium on space science in Washington, DC, sometime in the 1990s, at which the head of NASA at the time, Dan Goldin, gave a keynote address. He marched up to the podium in his trademark cowboy boots, looked out at the assembled astronomers and physicists in the audience, and asked: “How many biologists are here today?” No hands went up. He then said, “The next time I address this audience, I expect it to be full of biologists!”

While NASA had launched an exobiology program in 1960, and the Viking program had searched for signs of life on Mars, in my mind, Goldin’s speech marked the official christening of the field of astrobiology.

In many ways, that was a high point.

More here.