The CEED Wilson lecture 2017: Reverse Gaia Hypothesis: Life as a Geological Process

We proudly announce the CEED Wilson lecturer for 2017: Professor John Hernlund from the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI), Tokyo Institute of Technology.

Professor John Hernlund. Photo: Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technology

"All systems on the Earth are linked with each other by exchange of matter and energy. Therefore, it is natural to suppose that Earth and life are intimately connected", Hernlund, ELSI.

Summary - Reverse Gaia Hypothesis: Life as a Geological Process

Many major scientific revolutions were rooted in changes in our ways of thinking about the context of humankind in the universe that ran counter to cherished traditions. For example, the Copernican revolution challenged the notion that Earth was the center of the universe, and the theory of evolution championed by Darwin toppled paradigms in which humankind held a special divine status above all other living things. While Sigmund Freud famously penned these episodes as “great blows to human self-esteem,” in fact they ultimately revealed a deeper truth and beauty that underlies the nature of the universe, and opened the door to further advances and exciting discoveries.

In this Wilson Lecture, I will argue that we still have remaining “sacred cows” that are holding up progress in understanding subjects such as the nature and origin of life, its relationship to planets, and the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe. In other words, certain ways of thinking are preventing us to marrying Copernican and Darwinian conceptions into an even broader scientific revolution. In particular, we have drawn an artificial boundary between the living and non-living world, even though they share the same characteristics and process the very same matter. Future progress toward the next revolution relies on our ability to be more flexible in our ways of thinking, to challenge and tear down the artificial barriers that chain us to old and stale conceptions. We need to intellectually adapt to the new era of exoplanet exploration, and the coming great discovery of life elsewhere in the universe.

About the speaker:

Professor John Hernlund, Earth-Life Science Institute, Tokyo Institute of Technologym 

About the lecture

The lecture is in English and is open to all interested.

Welcome to all!

The Wilson Lectures

Previous titles in the Wilson lecture series/CEED:

Published July 31, 2017 1:11 PM - Last modified Oct. 27, 2017 1:03 PM