Breakthrough Discuss is an annual academic conference focused on life in the Universe and novel ideas for space exploration.
Breakthrough Discuss 2020
Notice regarding postponement of Breakthrough Discuss 2020
Over recent weeks, the Breakthrough Discuss organizers have been monitoring the situation regarding the spread of the novel coronavirus. Reluctantly, the decision has now been made to postpone this year’s conference in the interest of its guests. As in previous years, attendees and speakers are expected to join the conference from countries and institutions around the world. This element of global participation is central to the character and mission of Discuss, which aims to foster ideas and conversations about our species and planet from a cosmic perspective. Under the current circumstances, however, it is likely that this would not be conducive to the safety of attendees.
The organizers will continue to monitor developments closely, and will issue an update with a revised date and schedule as soon as possible.
With apologies for any inconvenience,
The Breakthrough Initiatives team
Breakthrough Discuss 2019
Breakthrough Discuss 2019 was held at UC Berkeley April 11-12, 2019. The theme, “Migration of Life in the Universe,” brought together an all-star group of astronomers, biologists, chemists and other experts to discuss whether and how primitive life can move between planets and stars, and if that is how life began on Earth. Co-hosted by the UC Berkeley Department of Astronomy, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and NASA Astrobiology Institute and NASA Ames Research Center, the three sessions were: Migration of Life in the Universe, chaired by Penelope Boston and Lindy Elkins-Tanton; Search for Extraterrestrial Genomes, chaired by Drew Endy and Gary Ruvkun; and Emigration of Earth Life, chaired by Kate Adamala and Sara Walker. Watch the conference talks here.
Breakthrough Discuss 2018
Breakthrough Discuss 2018 (April 12-13), held at Stanford University, was co-hosted by Stanford University's Department of Physics, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and NASA Astrobiology Institute & NASA Ames Research Center. The conference’s three sessions were: Search for Life in our Solar System, chaired by Penelope Boston and Chris McKay; Possibilities for Non-Terran Life in the Universe, chaired by Svetlana Berdyugina and Lisa Kaltenegger; and Progress in Novel Space Propulsion, chaired by Sigrid Close and Zachary Manchester. Watch the conference here.
Breakthrough Discuss 2017
Breakthrough Discuss 2017 (April 20-21) was hosted by Stanford University’s Department of Physics and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and sponsored by the Breakthrough Initiatives. The conference focused on the following three areas: Observations of Proxima b and Habitable Planets Around Nearby Cool Stars, chaired by Oliver Guyon; SETI Observations of Proxima b and Nearby Stars, chaired by Jill Tarter; and Scientific Goals and Instrumentation for a Flyby of the Nearest Stars, chaired by Avi Loeb. Watch the conference here.
Breakthrough Discuss 2016
The inaugural Breakthrough Discuss conference (April 15-16) was hosted by Stanford University’s Department of Physics and sponsored by the Breakthrough Initiatives. The event focused on the following three areas: Optical SETI and the Detectability of Directed Energy Systems, chaired by Jill Tarter; Exo-planet Detection Programs Focused on Alpha Centauri, chaired by Olivier Guyon; and the Sun as a Gravitational Lens, chaired by Avi Loeb. Watch the conference here.