Darwin Day 2018

Why is life the way it is?

Nick Lane

Tuesday 20 February at 16:00. VilVite, Nash Auditorium, Thormøhlensgate 51

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.

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.

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.

The lecture is intended for a wide audience, will be held in English, and is part of the Horizons seminar series of the Faculty of Science dedicated to big questions in science. Refreshments will be served from 16:00; the talk begins 16:15.

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 Reader in Evolutionary Biochemistry.

Nick Lane’s research research deals with evolutionary biochemistry and bioenergetics, focusing on the origin of life and the evolution of complex cells. He is the author of several acclaimed books, including
The Vital Question: Why is Life the Way it is? (2015) on which this talk is based,
Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution (2009),
Power Sex and Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life (2005), and
Oxygen: The Molecule that Made the World (2002).

Why is the Darwin Day celebrated?
Who is behind the Darwin Day in Bergen?
The Darwin Day 2018 in Oslo
Earlier events:
2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010,
2009, 2008, 2007.

Institutt for biovitenskap