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Origins of Life: Chemistry and Evolution


Speaker: Loren Williams (Georgia Institute of Technology, US)
Date: 23/11/2023
Time: 10:00

Around four billion years ago, chemical and geological processes on the ancient Earth caused increases in complexity of organic molecules, creating RNA, DNA, protein, polysaccharide, membrane-forming amphipaths, and metabolism. But how?

In our center are learning to understand the origins of life through the geology, physics, chemistry and biochemistry of water. Water serves as a medium, as a chemical hub, and as an energy currency during experimental chemical evolution. We have developed an experimental platform that allows us to perform and evaluate chemical evolution. Based in part on our results, here we describe why (we think) the origins of life:

(i) represents an experimentally addressable and solvable problem that one day will be understood and generally accepted,
(ii) is not technically difficult - it happened on the Hadean Earth, in the absence of post docs, pH meters, rotavaps, HPLCs, NMRs, and mass spectrometers,
(iii) is not a series of idiosyncratic and spectacular one-off events but is reproducible and even mundane,
(iv) is a specific example of a class of processes that we call general chemical evolution, and
(v) can be redirected and exploited for a broad array of chemical applications ranging from materials science, to nanotechnology, to medicine, to astrobiology (i.e., there is money to be made).


If you would like to attend the seminar, please register here