Monday, June 13, 2011

Origin Of Life At CERN

A rather fascinating and unexpected topic of a workshop held at CERN recently.

On 20 May, a small group of biologists and chemists arrived at Cern for a workshop from the institution's experts on how to organise a disparate community of research groups all over the world into a single scientific force. While much of the research at Cern is focused on the beginnings of the Universe, the delegates also held a discussion on the beginnings of life.

Much of the research in the field is currently focused on so-called "autocatalytic sets". These are groups of molecules that undergo reactions where all molecules mutually catalyse each other -- speed up the rate at which the reaction takes place. In this way, the sets are self-sustaining. It's believed that protocells emerged from such a system, but there's a significant question mark over how likely it is for these sets to occur randomly.

There's plenty of opportunities to expand the horizon of a facility and organization such as CERN. This certainly is one way that it can contribute to a field of study that needs the expertise and capability that CERN has.


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