Every day, I (Prof. Joseph Borg
- Faculty of Health Sciences
) look inside human cells, aided by the state-of-the-art equipment we have at the University of Malta. But I have always been interested in fundamental questions in science, like ‘How and when did life emerge on Earth?’, ‘How did our solar system and life evolve, and how will it develop in the future?’ and ‘Is there life on other celestial bodies?’ I reached out to Prof. Kristian Zarb Adami
, who directs the Institute of Space Sciences and Astronomy
, and I told him that I was a molecular biologist with a slight inclination for astronomy. When we met, we found that we have more interests in common than the highly fragmented world of science often leads us to think.
We spent hours discussing our interests and eventually designed our very first experiment – emitting a 2.8 GHz (10.7cm-long) radio frequency signal and continuously bombarding two small plates containing harmless microorganisms (bacteria). To build on the good work and prevent a counterproductive fragmentation of existing resources, the group now plans a platform for research, training outreach, and dissemination in astrobiology, open to researchers from various backgrounds.