Origins: From the Big Bang to Life
Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP)
Questions such as "What is life?", "Is life an expected consequence of the evolution of the Universe?", and "Can we determine general principles for the origin and evolution of life?" have puzzled humans for a long time. We now know that the evolution of the Universe and of the only example of life we know so far, life on Earth, share many aspects, although we know very little of the specifics.
The answers to the above questions cannot come from any single discipline, but from the joint perspectives on evolution and life provided by many disciplines. Astrobiology is a trans-disciplinary field in which physics, geology, chemistry, biology, engineering, etc. interact in order to answer core questions about the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the Universe.
This year's program is devoted to tracing the ~13 billion-year pathway from the origin of the Universe at the time of the "Big Bang" to the rise of complex, intelligent life on Earth. Highlights of this journey, including the formation and evolution of galaxies from newly-created primordial matter, the development of planets and habitable zones around recycled stars, the astrochemical steps leading to the formation and delivery of the building blocks of life, the origins of life itself, and the ways in which an inhabited planet and its life co-evolve and generate complexity. A central concept is that life is a consequence of the evolution of the Universe - "Astrobiolog╠a: la vida como consequencia de la evoluc╠on del Universo" (JPM).
This school is for people of all ages (students, postdoctoral scholars, established scientists) who are interested in broadening their scientific perspective, and who are concerned with both the fundamental research aimed at understanding these deep questions, and the means to obtain new knowledge through experiments, observations, numerical methods, and instrument design and construction. The course will be a mixture of lectures, round table discussions and geological field observations aimed at stimulating new approaches for future flight missions. Weather permitting, it will include an evening of astronomical observations carried out with members of the Santander Amateur Astronomical Association. There will also be an evening public lecture on a local geological topic of interest to all.