14 March 2022
Origins of Life
from evolution of planets to sparkles of life
is the most complex entity in this corner of the universe, and its origin is one of the biggest mysteries in science. Did life happen by chance on Earth? Is our planet the only one in the universe hosting life? To answer these questions, we need to penetrate the fundamental processes that made it possible. It took no magic but billions of years. Life emerged because of the interactions among millions of simpler constituents, in the fine-tuned conditions of a welcoming planet.
On Monday, March 14th, when the Science Café Nijmegen opens its doors again, we will walk back the origin of life, starting from the formation of inhabitable planets up to the aggregation of the first life forms. Planetary physicist Dennis Höning (Vrije Universiteit) studies the evolution of planets, modelling the exchange of carbonates between the mantle and the atmosphere. Subduction zones and thermal spots are among the factors that allow for the accumulation of enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to keep our planet habitable. By applying his models to exoplanetary data, he can assist the search for life beyond our Solar System. Omer Markovitch, chemist from Groningen University, will introduce us to the complex mechanisms of prebiotic evolution. He focuses on the numerous steps that matter must accomplish before life sparkles, in the process that took us from simple molecules into cellular structures. This evening, from 7.30 pm onwards, we are welcomed back with the musical improvisations and 'duologues' of Daniël van der Duim and Loek van den Berg.