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What has the Antarctic ozone hole to do with biological evolution?

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The ozone hole in the Antarctic stratosphere is mainly due to man-made chemicals from the opposite hemisphere, the industrial north. It was the first global-scale environmental phenomenon to be understood well enough to be taken seriously by big business and governments, and thus to bring about a new symbiosis between regulation and market forces. Understanding the ozone hole was a notable scientific achievement because of its immense complexity. There are strong interactions between disparate timescales, from femtoseconds as photons hit molecules out to the many decades governed by the fluid dynamics of the Brewer-Dobson circulation. Mathematical modelling of such multi-timescale interactions is familiar in physics and chemistry but has often been neglected in research on biological evolution—in particular, in the old population-genetics models that led to selfish-gene theory. Those models miss many crucial aspects of, in particular, human evolution.

This talk is part of the Centre for Atmospheric Science seminars, Chemistry Dept. series.

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