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Letter from Joshua Lederberg to G. A. Derbyshire

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  • Biology


March 29, I$0 Mr. George A. Derbyshire Space Science Board 1145 19th Street N.U. Washington 6, 0. C. Dear George: Concerning the functions and objectives of the Biology Committee Keffer will doubtless be replying to Peavey’s letter with regard to the biology picture as a whole, and in fact, you have our summary of the last meeting with specific recanmendations along the lines requested in his letter. With particular reference to exobiology: 1) Principle functions and objectives. To insure the continued development and realization of a sound progrem for the investigation of the development of life beyond the earth. 2) To discourage trtviai and sensationalized projects which may have negligible scientific value but may be forwarded under the color of scientific investigetion. 3) ‘To maintain Q constant critical review of scientific objectives in exobiology and of the methodology for achieving them. 4) To evaluate the possiti hazards resulting frcm the inter- planetary transport of biological material. 5) To inform ourselves and our colleagues of the possibilities of exobiological research and to encourage imaglnrtlve thinking and experimental execution of relevant programs. 6) To further discussion at a scientific level among American, USSR, and other biologists of their over-all scientific objectives and methods. 7) To press within our own Administration for continued attention to the needs of exobiological research in proportion to their long-range significance notwithstanding the current novelty and conceptual difficulty of this disclpiine. immediate future tasks: I) To respond to the current request for outlining a detailed ten and twenty year program. 2) To establish a more coherent position on the question of the back-contamination of the earth. 5) To review currently proposed experimental approaches to exobiology. 4) To establish a good working liaison with the NASA Executive. 5) To establish effectiv

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