University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > DAMTP Statistical Physics and Soft Matter Seminar > Recreating first steps of Life using non-equilibrium settings

Recreating first steps of Life using non-equilibrium settings

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How could life emerge on the early Earth? Our experiments probe the first steps of molecular evolution by non-equilibrium experiments. Typically, we used millimeter-scaled temperature gradients, including the effects of air-water interfaces. These environments accumulate molecules, select them for length, enable the strand separation of RNA and allow continuous feeding of fresh molecules. Using sequencing, we see diverse pathways in sequence space for structure to emerge from randomness. These experimental findings make us better understand what are the pitfalls to establish an open ended evolution. In many cases, these studies are still performed with the help of proteins, but we converge towards conditions that allow RNA only experiments. By balancing prebiotic chemistry with the physics of surface tension, evaporation, CO2 , thermophoresis and gravity in heated chambers we progress to understand the autocatalytic networks that could lead to Darwinian evolution.

This talk is part of the DAMTP Statistical Physics and Soft Matter Seminar series.

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