Place: Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery , Orchard Room
Speaker: Zoe Todd, University of Washington
Abstract: Perhaps the most intriguing question that has mystified mankind for centuries is: “are we alone in the universe?” Fortunately, we have unprecedented access to the one planet where we know life originated: the Earth. By studying the origins of life and using the context of the early Earth planetary environment, we may be able to constrain prebiotic chemical processes and understand the implications for the potential habitability of other worlds. My work addresses the origins of life from the planetary perspective; in particular, I aim to elucidate a continuous and plausible path for the origins of life: from the simplest molecules available abundantly in planetary environments, to the synthesis of the building blocks of life, and finally to the development of self-replicating protocells. By using a combined astronomical and chemical perspective within the planetary context, we can place constraints on and evaluate the plausibility of prebiotic chemical pathways; this information can be used to determine plausible environments for the origins of life. In this way, we not only gain a better understanding of how the origins of life on Earth may have occurred, but we are also better informed when it comes to the search for life on other planets.
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Host: David Baum,Professor and Chair, Department of Botany, Wisconsin Institute for DIscovery Fellow