Isaac Asimov Memorial Debates

Scholar Isaac Asimov  was one of the 20th century's most prolific writers, writing in many  genres. He was known for sci-fi works like Foundation and I, Robot.


Born  on January 2, 1920, in Petrovichi, Russia, Isaac Asimov immigrated with  his family to the United States and became a biochemistry professor  while pursuing writing. He published his first novel, Pebble in the Sky, in 1950. An immensely prolific author who penned nearly 500 books, he published influential sci-fi works like I, Robot and the Foundation trilogy, as well as books in a variety of other genres. Asimov died in New York City on April 6, 1992.

Early life and Education

Isaac  Asimov was born Isaak Yudovick Ozimov on January 2, 1920, in  Petrovichi, Russia, to Anna Rachel Berman and Judah Ozimov. The family  immigrated to the United States when Asimov was a toddler, settling into  the East New York section of Brooklyn. (Around this time, the family  name was changed to Asimov.)

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2017: De-Extinction

Neil deGrasse Tyson and panelists discuss de-extinction in the 2017  Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate at the American Museum of Natural History.  Biologists today have the knowledge, the tools, and the ability to  influence the evolution of life on Earth. Do we have an obligation to  bring back species that human activities may have rendered extinct? Does  the technology exist to do so? Join Tyson and the panel for a lively  debate about the merits and shortcomings of this provocative idea.

2016: Is the Universe a simulation?

What  may have started as a science fiction speculation—that perhaps the   universe as we know it is a computer simulation—has become a serious   line of theoretical and experimental investigation among physicists,   astrophysicists, and philosophers.  Neil deGrasse Tyson, Frederick P.  Rose Director of the Hayden  Planetarium, hosts and moderates a panel of  experts in a lively  discussion about the merits and shortcomings of  this provocative and  revolutionary idea. 

2015: Water, Water

Earth is the only place in our solar system with liquid water on its  surface. Even though water makes up only 0.03 percent of the Earth’s  total mass, it covers 70 percent of the planet’s surface. Where did this  water come from? Why is it mostly in liquid form? How much of it is  drinkable and how vulnerable is this valuable resource? Will we ever run  out? Will wars of the future be fought over access to it? Will future  generations harness water from space? Is water essential to all life?

2014: Selling Space

Space exploration is entering a new era. Dozens of aerospace companies  have emerged in recent years, all with the goal of commercializing space  as never before. From serving NASA's cargo needs to sending tourists on  space vacations to mining asteroids for profit, this next generation of  entrepreneurs, and not NASA, may be the ones who transform space into  our backyard, possibly creating the 1st ever trillionaires.

2013: Existence of Nothing

The concept of nothing is as old as zero itself. How do we grapple with  the concept of nothing? From the best laboratory vacuums on Earth to the  vacuum of space to what lies beyond, the idea of nothing continues to  intrigue professionals and the public alike.

2012: Faster than the speed of light

On March 20, 2012, over 5,000 people tuned in to the live  stream of the 2012 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate from the LeFrak Theater  at the American Museum of Natural History.  Hosted by Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson, this year's  debate pitted some of the experimentalists who claimed to have  discovered faster-than-light neutrinos against their strongest critics,  as well as other teams who are racing to test Albert Einstein's Theory  of Relativity with unprecedented precision.

2011: Theory of Everything

Can the entire universe be explained with a single, unifying theory?   This is perhaps the most fundamental question in all of science, and it  may also be the most controversial.   Albert Einstein was among the first to envision a unified theory that  could account for the behavior of all matter and energy in the cosmos,  but a definitive solution has eluded physicists to this day. As the 21st  century progresses, "string theory" remains the leading candidate to be  the "theory of everything"..

2010: Is Earth Unique?

Join astrophysicist and Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson  as he hosts and moderates a panel discussion dedicated to the perennial  question "Is Earth Unique?"  With what we now know about the stars in  our galaxy and the planets that orbit them, we can begin to address this  question with informed debate.     Panelists are selected for their diverse expertise in geology, biology,  chemistry, and physics and for the ways they have applied these fields...