A chemists perspective about the origin of life

Digital event

The origin of life on the early earth must have been proceeded by the emergence of the key molecules that are needed to establish nucleic acid and proteins. In this prebiotic phase of live, chemical processes must have occurred that let to the formation of nucleobases, amino acids and other molecules that a first primitive cells must have needed. With the discovery of exoplanets and based on current spectroscopic advances that allow us to investigate the composition of the atmospheres of exoplanets, the question under which conditions the molecules of life can form, has gained tremendous importance, even beyond origin of life research. In my lecture I will report about new geochemical models of the early earth atmosphere and crust. I will discuss reactions pathways that generate with astonishing ease amino acids and nucleic acids. The result of the study is that the emergence of life is not a rare event, dictated by chance but that it is rather an inevitable event that takes place under a variety of conditions.

Thomas Carells academic career in chemistry began at the Universities of Münster and Heidelberg. In 1993, he obtained his doctorate with Prof. H. A. Staab at the Max-Planck Institute of Medical Research. After postdoctoral training with Prof. J. Rebek at MIT (Cambridge, USA) from 1993 – 1995, Thomas Carell moved to the ETH Zürich (Switzerland) to start independent research. He obtained his habilitation in 1999. In 2000, he accepted a full professor position for Organic Chemistry at the Philipps-Universität in Marburg (Germany). In 2004, he moved to the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich (Germany) where he is heading a research group in chemical biology focused to analyze the chemistry of epigenetic programming in DNA and RNA. Thomas Carell is a member of the German National Academy Leopoldina and of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the recipient of the Cross of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany and since 2019 member of the supervisory board of BASF SE.

Moderation: Professorin Dr. Sabine Müller

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You can take part in this event on site in the college (with registration) or digitally via the virtual lecture hall of the college (without registration):

Registration for face-to-face participation

Access to the lecture hall

Organizational information on the digital lecture
The Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg is offering this event live as a zoom meeting, in which viewers can also take part in the subsequent discussion with video contributions.

  • We would be delighted if you gave your real name when dialing into Zoom. Of course, you can also take part in the event under a pseudonym.
  • A list of all participants is available to all those involved during the entire event.
  • During the lecture, the microphones of the audience are all automatically muted so as not to generate any disturbing background noise. You can turn on the audience's camera during the lecture.
  • In the discussion that follows, requests to speak or questions can be displayed using the "Raise hand" function. You can find these - depending on the device - under the button "Participant", "More" or "Reactions" in Zoom. You can also lower your hand again if you want to withdraw the question.
  • The moderator keeps a speech list and gives the floor in the order of the messages. If the moderator asks you to bring your question or request to speak, the user interface will ask you to turn on your microphone. If you have not already done so, you are welcome to turn on your camera. This is particularly desirable when presenting longer requests to speak so that the presenter can also see who is asking the question or who is making the comment.
  • Of course, you also have the option of asking your questions in writing in the chat.

Recording of the digital lecture
The digital lecture will be recorded so that it can be used in the college's media library. Only the speaker, his / her presentation and the moderator can be heard or seen in the recording. Video, audio or chat contributions are not recorded. A “REC” symbol at the edge of the screen informs the participants about the current recording.

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