SeminBar is a public lecture series featuring international scientists talking about their research emphasizing engaging key scientific concepts and visions relevant to molecular systems engineering in a format understandable to a wider audience.
The SeminBar is held at Gare du Nord, Basel Bad Bf in English and starts at 6 pm. It is open to the public. Accompanying the talk is a live music act, an Apéro riche and drinks at the bar. Free entrance!
Mon, 27 November 2023, 18.00
Nick Lane, Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, GB
We will never know for certain how life started on Earth, but we can build a testable framework that shows how a sterile, inorganic planet could spring to life. In this talk I will use life as a guide to its own origins. Modern cells use electrical charges on membranes to drive their metabolism, which in turn makes the building blocks of genes and proteins. I will show that equivalent processes were possible in ancient hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean. Electrical charges on mineral barriers can drive the reaction of gases such as hydrogen and carbon dioxide to power a spontaneous proto-metabolism, and ultimately the emergence of genetic information. The genetic code conceals enigmatic patterns that suggest there were once direct interactions between amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, and the first genes. I will end with some thoughts on how these processes might culminate in cells developing agency and a rudimentary stream of consciousness.