The Huxley Lecture: Why is life the way it is? An energetic view of evolution

Aston Webb main lecture theatre
Wednesday 5 December 2018 (17:00-18:00)

Professor David Hannah
Director of Research, College of Life & Environmental Sciences 

Thomas Henry Huxley

The first signs of life on Earth date back 4 billion years, but for most of Earth’s history the most complex organisms were bacteria. 

Really complex life, composed of ‘eukaryotic’ cells that are strikingly different to bacteria, emerged just once, around 1.5 billion years ago. This peculiar trajectory is not explained by genes alone, but might be shaped by the strange mechanism through which cells generate their energy, by electrical force-fields on their membranes. Keeping this electrical force alive over billions of years could explain many longstanding puzzles in biology, such as the evolution of two sexes.

Presented by
Professor Nick Lane
Professor of Evolutionary Biochemistry, University College London

Drinks Reception to follow in The Lapworth Museum

About Nick Lane

Professor Nick Lane’s research is on the way that energy flow has shaped evolution, using a mixture of theoretical modelling and experimental work to address the origin of life, the evolution of complex cells and downright peculiar behaviour such as sex. Prof Lane is Co-Director of the UCL Centre for Life’s Origin and Evolution (CLOE) and was a founding member of the UCL Consortium for Mitochondrial Research. His work has been honoured by several awards including the 2015 Biochemical Society Award and the 2016 Royal Society Michael Faraday Prize. His book Life Ascending won the 2010 Royal Society Prize for Science Books, while Bill Gates described The Vital Question as “an amazing inquiry into the origins of life.

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