Deep life

7.00pm to 8.30pm, Tuesday 21 March

The Theatre

This event has already taken place

  • Some bacteria can live off rocks and water, sealed off from the outside air, for millenia.

    Credit: Andrew McMillan via Wikimedia


Standard £14


Concession £10


Members and Patrons £7

Event description

Tullis Onstott is a geochemist who travels deep into the uncharted regions beneath the Earth's crust to search for life in extreme environments. In his new book Deep Life, Tullis explores new discoveries from the deep that are helping in the quest to find life in the solar system. 

In 1901 H. G. Wells, a contemporary of Lowell, published The First Men in the Moon, in which he constructed a fantastically sophisticated society of insect-like creatures, Selenites, living beneath the lunar surface. Since then, the concept of subsurface life has figured frequently in science fiction novels and movies, even in episodes of Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation. But is there any scientific basis supporting it? Can life survive miles beneath a planet’s surface for millions of years even when that surface is inimical to it? In Tullis Onstott’s new book, Deep Life, you will be transported on safaris to the deepest realms of our planet in the search of the answer to this question and to the origin of life itself. The organisms and ecosystems encountered on these journeys are so astonishing in their resilience and complexity that life beneath the surface of Mars is now no longer restricted to the realm of science fiction, but is a tangible target and concern for future robotic and human missions.

About the speakers

Tullis Onstott is a Professor of Geosciences at Princeton University. For the past 23 years his research has focused on subsurface microbial life, figuring out their community structure, function, and activity.

Book signing

After the talk, there will be an opportunity to buy books and have them signed by the author.


This event will be filmed and on the Ri Channel within a few months. Subscribe for free to hear when new videos are released.

Become a member

Benefit from free and better than half-price tickets, special offers and access to the CHRISTMAS LECTURES ticket ballot.

Join todayGo