Venue of the HIFOL Colloquia:

Königstuhl 17, Heidelberg: Auditorium of Haus der Astronomie

Coming Colloquia

25.04.2018 – Dominic Papineau @MPIA, Lecture Hall

(London Centre for Nanotechnology)

Title: Biosignatures on the Early Earth and Possibly on Mars

Abstract: The oldest sedimentary rocks on Earth preserve a record of early biological evolution that might also have occurred on early Mars. However, this problem is very challenging due to the high level of metamorphism and alteration of these ancient rocks. However, the combined elemental, isotopic, and molecular compositions of graphite and its associated key minerals can yield a solid case for a biological origin. I will discuss our recent findings of graphite with apatite and microfossils in the Nuvvuagittuq iron formation from Canada, which is older than 3.77 billion years old. We are also testing a new model involving chemically-oscillating reactions in the formation of these rocks and as an approach to search for the remains of extra-terrestrial life.

02.05.2018 – David Deamer

(University of California)

Title: Hydrothermal Vents or Hydrothermal Fields: Where can Life begin?

Abstract: Because salty seawater dominates the Earth's surface today, it is natural to think that life began in the ocean, perhaps in hydrothermal vents. However, from a biophysical perspective there are significant limitations to this conjecture. An alternative site is hydrothermal fresh water. Volcanic regions of Kamchatka, Iceland and Hawaii have abundant fresh water pools that undergo cycles of hydration (precipitation) and dehydration (evaporation). We have prepared a laboratory simulation of such cycles using solutions of mononucleotides mixed with lipids that can assemble into membranous structures. When the mixtures were exposed to multiple wet-dry cycles, RNA-like polymers from 10 to over 100 nucleotides in length were products. Furthermore, in the final hydration phase the polymers are encapsulated in lipid vesicles to form protocells. We propose that selection and evolution of robust protocells composed of encapsulated RNA-like polymers is a first step toward the origin of life in a fresh water environment. Our attempts to reproduce the results in seawater failed. These observations have obvious implications related to the search for life on Mars and icy moons like Enceladus and Europa.

13.06.2018 – Dimitry Semenov

(Department of Chemistry, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich)

Title: Organics in Space

Abstract: TBA

07.11.2018 – Rene Heller

@MPIA, Lecture Hall

(Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen )

Title: The Perils and Merits of Living Around a Red Dwarf Star

Abstract: The Earth does not contain most of the liquid water in the solar system. Instead, the icy moons around Jupiter and Saturn maintain huge subsurface water reservoirs worth several Earth oceans. With only one hundredth the mass of the Earth or less than a tenth the mass of Mars, Jupiter's moon Europa has long been suspected to be geologically dead with no internal heat source left to prevent it (or her) from becoming entirely frozen. The famous Laplace orbital resonance with Europa's neighboring moons Io and Ganymede, however, has kept its orbit elliptical for billions of years, which is the source of an internal tidal heat source that melts the subsurface ice. Many planets have now been found beyond the solar system, some of the most interesting of which orbit nearby red dwarf stars. Their system architectures resemble that of the Jovian moon system in many regards such as orbital mean motion resonances, the alignment of the orbital planes, the mean densities of the bodies suggesting rocky-water compositions etc. The ultimate questions is: could these extrasolar, Earth-sized planets have clement surfaces with liquid water? I will show how tidal heating and the evolution of the stellar luminosity affect the habitability of planets and moons around red dwarf stars.

Past Colloquia

28.02.2018 – Lena Noack

(FU, Berlin)

Title: Volcanic Activity on Rocky Planets – Implications for the Habitability of Exoplanets

07.02.2018 – Daniel Apai

(University of Arizona)

Title: Building Habitable Worlds: Exo-Earth Formation and the Delivery of Volatiles and Organics

29.11.2017 – Mark van Zuilen

(Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris)

Title: Tracing Life in the early Rock Record

08.11.2017 – Ralf Kaiser

(University of Hawaii)

Title: "Exploiting Tunable Vacuum Ultraviolet Light to Unravel the Synthesis of Biorelevant Molecules in Deep Space"

26.07.2017 - Sebastian Pallmann

(Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München)

Title: "Scouting Chemical Networks" Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München)

14.06.2017 – Mark Harrison

(University of California, Los Angeles)

Title: "A New View of Early Earth and its Habitability"

03.05.2017 – Frank Postberg

(Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Heidelberg)

Title: "The Search for Life on Icy Ocean Moons in the Solar System"

12.04.2017 – Bernard Marty

(Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et Géochimiques Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy, France)

Title: "Origin of Water and other Volatile Elements in Inner Planets, in the Light of the Recent Results from the Rosetta Mission"

11.01.2017 – Edwin Bergin

(University of Michigan, Department of Astronomy)

Title: "Tracing the Ingredients of Habitable Worlds from the Interstellar Medium through Planet Formation"

21.12.2016 – Uwe J. Meierhenrich

(Université Nice Sophia Antipolis Institut de Chimie de Nice)

Title: "The Cometary Rosetta Mission: Analytical Chemistry on the Nucleus of Comet 67P"

30.11.2016 – Christian Hallmann

(Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry, MARUM, University of Bremen)

Title: "Biomarker-hydrocarbon indicators for the early evolution of life on Earth"

16.11.2016 – Albrecht Ott

(Universität des Saarlandes)

Title: "Spontaneous Autocatalysis in a Prebiotic Broth"

05.10.2016 – Bruce Fegley

(Washington University St. Louis)

Title: "Chemical models of Earth's early atmosphere"

01.06.2016 – Peter Schuster

(University of Vienna)

Title: "From Darwin’s Natural Selection to Reproducing Molecular Networks"

18.05.2016 – Ximena C. Abrevaya

(CONICET, Buenos Aires)

Title: "Astrobiology: interdisciplinary approaches for a multidisciplinary science"

11.05.2016 – Paul Higgs

(Origins Institute, McMaster University, Ontario)

Title: "From Chemistry to Biology: How did the RNA World get started?" (Organized by Th. K. Henning) 

06.04.2016 – Farid Salama

(NASA-Ames Research Center, CA, USA)

Title: "Organic Matter in Space" (Organized by Th. K. Henning) 

09.03.2016 – Lisa Kaltenegger

(Associate Professor of Astronomy @ Cornell University and Director of the Carl Sagan Institute)

Title: "Rocky Exoplanets and the Scientific Concept of Habitable Worlds"

10.02.2016 – Ralph Pudritz

(McMaster University Hamilton, Canada)

Title: "Amino acid and Nucleobase Synthesis in Meteoritic Parent Bodies"

Presentation from speakers

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