The building blocks of life as we know it, including amino acids, nucleobases, and sugars, were synthesized early in the history of the solar system in space, in processes likely common throughout the universe. After delivery to habitable worlds, such building blocks may have biased independent origins of life, if they occurred, towards similar solutions. For example, nucleic acids or their cousins may serve as a common physical basis for heritability and evolution. Read more about Origins Chalk Talk Chris Carr (Ruvkun Group) "On the Search for Informational Polymers Beyond Earth"
This Chalk Talk will be a panel discussion of Origins Graduate Consortium student members, moderated by Dimitar Sasselov, as they share their assessment of the Consortium’s first field trip, a five-day trip to Pasadena, California in June 2016.Visits to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Mount Wilson, the Giant Magellan Telescope headquarters, and CalTech focused on astrobiology and exoplanet searches and characterization.
Abstract- I will attempt to give an overview of some basic principles involved in nonenzymatic (RNA) replication using the language of statistical mechanics. I will give a mathematical definition of fidelity in terms of thermodynamic and kinetic constants, and try to demonstrate the connection between entropy and the transmission of information in this context. My main goal is to try to convey a general idea of nonenzymatic replication using the language of physics, rather than specific chemical structures, in an effort to gives those non-chemists/biologists in the room a description … Read more about Origins Chalk Talk -A Statistical Mechanical Description of Nonenzymatic Replication- Albert Fahrenbach (MGH - Szostak Lab)
Abstract: From PREM (Dziewonski & Anderson 1981), I deduce a simple analytical model for rocky planets. Tested with PREM-extrapolated numerical models (Zeng, Sasselov, Jacobsen 2015), this model can be applied to any two-layer (iron-silicate) rocky exoplanets with CMF (core mass fraction) range 0.2∼0.35 and mass range of 0.1~20 M⊕. This analytical model yields several handy and powerful formulae for the interior of such a planet. They can provide physical insights into the planet structure.
Abstract: I will describe recent work on the development of a sensitive magnetic-field microscope with sub-micrometer spatial resolution. This instrument employs a layer of nitrogen-vacancy (NV) color centers at the surface of a diamond chip to enable imaging of magnetic fields from nearby samples. Together with collaborators in the MIT department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, we have used the NV-diamond microscope to study distributions of magnetic minerals in a variety of terrestrial and meteoric rocks. Read more about Origins Chalk Talk - David Glenn (Physics - Walsworth Group)
Abstract - My group members and myself are interested in the energy cycles of prebiotic molecular networks and metabolism. To be able to explore such networks, we have developed methods that combine heuristic reaction rules with quantum chemical calculations to be able to explore quickly the highly-dimensional potential energy surfaces associated with these reactions. We have explored the formose reaction and compared its network properties to those of metabolic networks. Read more about Chalk Talk - Alán Aspuru-Guzik, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology