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Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Horizon lecture

Nick Lane: Why is life the way it is?

There is a black hole at the heart of biology. We do not know why complex life is the way it is or how it began. In this lecture, award-winning biochemist Nick Lane radically reframes evolutionary history.

A Fern leaf

The Earth teems with life: in its oceans, forests, skies and cities. Yet there’s a black hole at the heart of biology. We do not know why complex life is the way it is, or, for that matter, how life first began. In this lecture, award-winning author and biochemist Nick Lane radically reframes evolutionary history, putting forward a solution to conundrums that have puzzled generations of scientists.

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For two and a half billion years, from the very origins of life, single-celled organisms such as bacteria evolved without changing their basic form. Then, on just one occasion in four billion years, they made the jump to complexity. All complex life, from mushrooms to man, shares puzzling features, such as sex, which are unknown in bacteria. How and why did this radical transformation happen?

The answer, Lane argues, lies in energy: all life on Earth lives off a voltage with the strength of a lightning bolt. Building on the pillars of evolutionary theory, Lane’s hypothesis draws on cutting-edge research into the link between energy and cell biology, in order to deliver a compelling account of evolution from the very origins of life to the emergence of multicellular organisms, while offering deep insights into our own lives and deaths.

Light refreshments will be served before the lecture, which starts at 16.15 pm on Tuesday 20 of February in Nash Auditorium at VilVite (please note new location!). Everybody is welcome!

About the speaker:

Dr Nick Lane is a British biochemist and writer. He was awarded the first Provost’s Venture Research Prize in the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London, where he is now a Professor of Evolutionary Biochemistry.

His research research deals with evolutionary biochemistry and  bioenergetics, focusing on the origin of life and the evolution of complex cells.

Read more on Dr Lane's web pages.

This lecture is a joint event between the Horizons seminar series of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and The Darwin Day in Bergen.

 

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