Chalk Talks

2014 May 01

Chalk Talk - "Activity based protein profiling and the puzzle about the origin of life" (Evelyn Zeiler - Harvard)

9:00am to 10:00am

Location: 

Naito Laboratory, Room 205 12 Oxford Street

Evelyn Zeiler
Origins Postdoctoral Fellow - Dept. of Earth & Planetary Sciences (Pearson Lab)

One of the fundamental processes of the origin of life is the need to separate biochemical reactions from the environment to build the first cells. Under the extreme conditions of early Earth, the need for membrane stability would have been paramount. The domain of Archaea exists in a broad range of habitats on Earth, and many extremophilic species are near the root of the phylogenetic tree of life. Their capabilities to survive a wide range of temperature, pH, pressure,...

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2014 Apr 03

Chalk Talk - "Towards controlled formation of amphiphilic molecules: insights from inorganic chemistry" (Jan Szymanski - Harvard)

9:00am to 10:00am

Location: 

Naito Laboratory, Room 205 12 Oxford Street

Jan Szymanski
Postdoctoral Fellow - Dept. of Earth & Planetary Sciences (Perez-Mercader Group)

For each of the three most important characteristics of extant living systems (membrane boundary, metabolism, information-carrying polymers), there exists an origins-of-life school of thought positing that one of them preceded the others along the path from non-life to life. The interconnectedness makes, however, exploring any of the three in the absence of the rest extremely difficult. In this talk, I am going to present some results regarding looking instead at a pair of...

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2014 Mar 06

Chalk Talk - "The Quest for Small Planets Orbiting Small Stars" (Courtney Dressing - Harvard)

9:00am to 10:00am

Location: 

Naito Laboratory, Room 205 12 Oxford Street

Courtney Dressing
Graduate Student - Dept. of Astronomy

Contrary to popular perception, the Sun is not a typical star. Roughly 75% of stars in the galaxy are actually smaller and cooler stars known as red dwarfs. Because most stars are red dwarfs, quantifying the fraction of red dwarfs that host planets and exploring properties of those planets is critical for advancing our knowledge of the overall population of planets in the galaxy. I will explain how the exquisite data obtained by the NASA Kepler mission has allowed us to estimate the fraction of...

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2014 Feb 06

Chalk Talk - "Solar System history from the asteroid belt's perspective" (Francesca DeMeo - Harvard)

9:00am to 10:00am

Location: 

Naito Laboratory, Room 205 12 Oxford Street

Francesca DeMeo
Postdoctoral Fellow - Harvard College Observatory

Asteroids and other small bodies are markers, like tiny beacons, relaying information about the initial temperature and composition conditions of our Solar System revealed by their surface compositions, as well as the Solar System’s evolution fossilized in the scattering record of these bodies. They are also the building blocks of the terrestrial planets, supplying both organic matter and water, essential for life as we currently understand it. In this talk I will begin by providing context for the...

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2013 Dec 05

Chalk Talk - "A Song of Ice and Fire - Evolution of small icy bodies and their planetary context"

9:00am to 10:00am

Location: 

Naito Laboratory, Room 205 12 Oxford Street

Gal Sarid
Postdoctoral Fellow - Dept. of Earth & Planetary Sciences (Stewart Lab)

The nature of icy-rocky minor bodies is one of the central themes in planetary science. Investigation of primitive bodies addresses questions about the initial stages, conditions, and processes during solar system formation, and the sources of organic and volatile material to the planets. With the on-going development of observing techniques and instruments, there are several potential analogs to our own diverse population of minor bodies littering other circum-stellar systems. These serve as...

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2013 Nov 14

Chalk Talk - "Oligomer assisted non-enzymatic RNA polymerization"

9:00am to 10:00am

Location: 

Naito Laboratory, Room 205 12 Oxford Street

Noam Prywes
Graduate Student - Dept. of Chemistry & Chemical Biology (Szostak Lab)

A central tenet of the RNA world is that RNA polymerases could replicate themselves.  Over the last 20 years, RNA-dependent RNA polymerases have been evolved that can copy RNA sequences longer than themselves.  The development of these polymerases required many rounds of selection and amplification.  Since amplification would have required a polymerase there appears to be a paradox.

Non-enzymatic polymerization has been proposed as a solution to this paradox....

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2013 Oct 03

Chalk Talk - "Going to Extremes: Ultra-High Pressure Studies of Planetary Materials"

9:00am to 10:00am

Location: 

Naito Laboratory, Room 205 12 Oxford Street

Dylan K. Spaulding
Origins Postdoctoral Fellow - Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences (Stewart Lab)

Exploring materials under extreme conditions of pressure and temperature is critical for understanding planetary formation, evolution and structure. Impact processes on planetary surfaces also play an important role in shaping the planetary environment and setting the stage for the possible sustenance of life. Here, I will discuss how static compression and shock wave experiments can be used to probe conditions from a few gigapascals to terapascal regimes and from...

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