Global Climate & Habitability: February 2010

Date/Time: Monday, March 1, 2010 11:00AM Pacific
Speaker: Tori Hoehler, NASA Ames Research Center
Title: "Energy Flow and Life: A Thermodynamic-Kinetic View of Biology in its Relationship with the Environment"

Abstract: Life's unique and universal relationship with energy flow offers an added constraint in conceptualizing and quantifying habitability and biosignatures, the central concepts in the search for life beyond Earth. The statement, "life requires energy", is widely accepted and often invoked in astrobiology, but is of little practical use given that energy - in one form or another, and at one level or another - is present everywhere in the universe. However, qualification and constraint are introduced by considering the unique attributes of life's dependence and effect on energy flow, at physical, chemical, and biological levels of specificity. Life's relationship with energy has both thermodynamic and kinetic dimensions: how much and how fast are both important, where energy demand, availability, and transduction are concerned. When considered in concert, these two dimensions yield significant resolving power in quantifying life's need for energy (a constraint on habitability) and life's imprint on energy flow (a form of biosignature). They do so at a fundamental point of interface between life and its host environment, and in a fashion that need not be specific to Earth-type life. This approach will be described at a conceptual level, and then applied to the specific example of habitability of serpentinizing systems for methanogenic organisms.

For more information and participation instructions:

Source: NAI Newsletter

Location: Palacio de Magdalena, Santander, Cantabria, Spain
Dates: June 21-25, 2010
Deadline: Closing date for NAI scholarship applications - March 31, 2010.

Overview: A week of lectures from international experts, plus round-table discussions, student projects, night-sky observations, and a field trip to a nearby site of astrobiological interest. On-site accommodation and all meals are provided at the Santander campus of the Spanish National University, UIMP. Scholarships covering travel costs, school fees, accommodation and meals are provided by NAI for approximately 10 American students. Additional opportunities are available for students of other nationalities. For more information:

Source: NAI newsletter

Session description:

The biogeochemical cycle of silicon, the second most abundant element of the earth's crust and a key nutrient element for numerous organisms, extends from the continents, via estuaries, to the oceans. In all environmental reservoirs (geo)physical, chemical, and biological processes affect the cycling of silicon. We invite research conducted on all aspects of the silicon cycle, at all spatial and temporal scales, using experimental, observational and modeling techniques. We particularly encourage contributions that explore the interconnections between the geological and biological roles of silicon.

For more information and abstract submission:

Source: NAI newsletter