Saturday Physics for Everyone

Title Saturday Physics for Everyone: What can theoretical physics tell us about the evolution of early life?
Speaker Professor Nigel Goldenfeld, Physics Department, Director, NASA Astrobiology Institute for Universal Biology
Date: 10/8/2016
Time: 10:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Location:

141 Loomis Laboratory of Physics, 1110 West Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

Sponsor:

University of Illinois Department of Physics

Contact: Toni Pitts, Coordinator of Recruiting and Special Programs, Physics Department
217-244-2948
sat_physics@physics.illinois.edu
Originating Calendar: Physics - Saturday Physics for Everyone
Abstract:

Popular lecture. 
Life on Earth is wonderfully diverse, with a multitude of life forms, structures, and evolutionary mechanisms. However, there are two aspects of life that are universal—shared by all known organisms. These are the genetic code, which governs how DNA is converted into the proteins making up your body, and the unexpected left-handedness of the amino acids in your body. One would expect that your amino acids were a mixture of left- and right-handed molecules, but none are right-handed! In this talk, I describe how these universal aspects of biology can be understood as arising from evolution, but generalized to an era where genes, species, and individuality had not yet emerged. Lastly, I will describe experimental work, conducted in collaboration with Tom Kuhlman, that probes the mechanisms of evolution at the molecular level, in real time, in living cells. These experiments complement the theoretical work and can test some of the fundamental assumptions of the theory of evolution.

View Professor Goldenfeld's presentation slides

SPE slide for What can theoretical physics tell us about the evolution of early life?

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