As a college student, Morrison had majored in physics at the University of Illinois. He studied astronomy at Harvard and then shifted to planetary science before focusing on astrobiology.
“Now I’m looking aback at the moon again,” he said.
He said he couldn’t imagine another career.
“It’s great fun,” he said. “Scientific exploration of other worlds is the most exciting thing you could possibly do.”
He believes that one day, humans will discover life in other worlds, although to a scientist, seeing is believing.
“I think it’s likely,” he said of the possibility. “We have no evidence so far to base that (belief) on.”
The goal at this point would be to find even the smallest evidence of life, such as microbes, but it’s difficult to build an instrument that would detect them, he said.
“We don’t have a universal life detector,” he explained. “Science isn’t about believing. It’s about having evidence.
“But yes, I expect we’ll find it in the future.”
A DANVILLE KID
Morrison, although passionate about the planets, also loved the arts as a youngster. His yearbook entry lists the dramatic club, the dramatic club cabinet and several other theatrical activities.
He also was a participant in the Wranglers club, a club for public speaking, as well as a staff member of the Maroon and White.
Associate Superintendent Mark Denman remembers speeches Morrison gave to Danville District 118 students during his visits back home. He inspired kids with discussions about his research.
He often told the District 118 students he was lucky to live out his childhood dreams.
Denman was a student of Morrison’s mother, Alice Morrison-Guin, who taught for many years at what was then Danville Junior College.
After high school graduation, Denman took her course on Shakespeare.