Skip to main content
Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Save up to 20% on the price of your tickets!

It's easy... Become a member today! If you are already a member, log in to get your member rate.

The Next 500 Years: Human Life Beyond Earth

Evening Program on Zoom

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 - 6:45 p.m. ET
Code: 1A0148
$20 - Member
$25 - Non-Member
Reserving your tickets...


Inevitably, life on Earth will come to an end, whether by climate disaster, or by cataclysmic war, or when the sun runs out of fuel in a few billion years. To avoid extinction, will humans have to find a new home planet, perhaps even a new solar system, to inhabit?

Geneticist and computational biologist Christopher Mason argues that the same capacity for ingenuity that has enabled us to build rockets and land on other planets can be applied to redesigning biology so that we can sustainably inhabit those planets.

Mason lays out a 500-year plan for undertaking the massively ambitious project of re-engineering human genetics for life in other worlds. With the assumption that humans are the only species aware that life on Earth has an expiration date, Mason believes we have a responsibility to act as the shepherd of lifeforms—not only for our species but for all species on which we depend and for those still to come (by accidental or designed evolution).

Mason’s book, The Next 500 Years: Engineering Life to Reach New Worlds (The MIT Press), is available for purchase.


  • Purchase your copy of The Next 500 Years by Christopher Mason here.
  • SPECIAL NOTE: Politics and Prose is offering a 10% discount to Smithsonian Associates ticket-holders. To claim your discount, enter the code SPECIAL10 (no space between letters and numbers) in the “Coupon discount” section on Politics and Prose's check-out page.


  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.
  • Unless otherwise noted, registration for streaming programs typically closes two hours prior to the start time on the date of the program.
  • Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from
  • Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
  • View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.

Inside Science

This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.