Searching for Alternative Chemistries of Life on Earth and Throughout the Universe

Friday, 13 February 2015: 3:00 PM-4:30 PM
Room LL20D (San Jose Convention Center)
A broad multidimensional understanding of the chemistries of life and the planetary processes that shape their evolution and development is now ascendant, driven by a remarkable wealth of research innovations to explore and extend the boundaries of what we call living. When these environmental niches and planetary processes become more diverse and extreme -- from deep in the oceans to the limits of our atmosphere, from the planets of our solar system to the ever-increasing discoveries of new exoplanets of other suns -- how might these chemistries differ from what we currently know? Researchers are in pursuit of the answers through a top-down, systems-biological survey of extreme environments and identification of their associated biochemical signatures; a bottom-up, systems-chemical investigation of emergent lifelike behavior from inanimate yet dynamic chemical networks; and work at the “Golden Spike,” the interface of inanimate and living matter, to explore the landscape of alternative biochemistries and their potential origins here and elsewhere in the universe. Questions to be discussed include: Why is this multi-realm approach needed? How do the distinct research realms complement each other in identifying signatures of alternative living systems? How do we unravel the complex interplay of planetary, chemical, and biological evolutionary networks, and what might we gain from their confluence?
David G. Lynn, Emory University
Jay T. Goodwin, AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, National Science Foundation
Jay T. Goodwin, AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, National Science Foundation
David G. Lynn, Emory University
Victoria J. Orphan, California Institute of Technology
Causality and the Diversity of Life from the Top-Down
John Chaput, Arizona State University
Where Biochemical Causality and Emergence Meet
Carolyn Porco, Space Science Institute
The Most Beguiling Question: Is There Life Beyond Earth?
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