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Origins Of Life

Santa Fe Institute via Complexity Explorer

14 Reviews 30 students interested
Found in Biology

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Overview

This course aims to push the field of Origins of Life research forward by bringing new and synthetic thinking to the question of how life emerged from an abiotic world.

This course begins by examining the chemical, geological, physical, and biological principles that give us insight into origins of life research. We look at the chemical and geological environment of early Earth from the perspective of likely environments for life to originate.

Taking a look at modern life we ask what it can tell us about the origin of life by winding the clock backwards. We explore what elements of modern life are absolutely essential for life, and ask what is arbitrary? We ponder how life arose from the huge chemical space and what this early 'living chemistry' may have looked like.

We examine phenomena, that may seem particularly life like, but are in fact likely to arise given physical dynamics alone. We analyze what physical concepts and laws bound the possibilities for life and its formation.

Insights gained from modern evolutionary theory will be applied to proto-life. Once life emerges, we consider how living systems impact the geosphere and evolve complexity. 

The study of Origins of Life is highly interdisciplinary - touching on concepts and principles from earth science, biology, chemistry, and physics.  With this we hope that the course can bring students interested in a broad range of fields to explore how life originated. 

The course will make use of basic algebra, chemistry, and biology but potentially difficult topics will be reviewed, and help is available in the course discussion forum and instructor email. There will be pointers to additional resources for those who want to dig deeper.

This course is Complexity Explorer's first Frontiers Course.  A Frontiers Course gives students a tour of an active interdisciplinary research area.The goals of a Frontiers Course are to share the excitement and uncertainty of a scientific area, inspire curiosity, and possibly draw new people into the research community who can help this research area take shape!

Syllabus

  1. Introduction
  2. Chemical Origins
  3. Chemical Comminalities
  4. Early Life
  5. Evolution
  6. Astrobiology & General Outlook

Taught by

Dr. Sarah Maurer and Dr. Chris Kempes

Reviews for Complexity Explorer's Origins Of Life
4.4 Based on 14 reviews

  • 5 stars 50%
  • 4 stars 43%
  • 3 star 7%
  • 2 star 0%
  • 1 star 0%

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  • 1
Anonymous
3.0 2 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I suggest that you turn the course upside down. Begin with the last section, which is by far the most important to understanding newer ideas about possible transitions from prebiotic chemistry to first life, and sets the stage for the other material. Spend much more time on very simple early molecular possibilities, and not so much time on the attributes of existing life forms. To use an example presented by one your speakers, you spend much too much time on the completed jetliner, and not on the routes to early life. After all, even the hypothetical LUCA is a highly, highly evolved life …
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Anonymous
5.0 a month ago
Anonymous completed this course.
This course gives ideas about how to approach a complex research field. The theme, ‘Origins of Life’ is not convertible into a single subject. Thus, designing ways and methods to study life, challenges the scientific reasoning near to the barriers of our current science limits.

Even a single aspect as the course organization, provides matter for discussion. I feel the course started giving general ideas about what life is. Afterward, the course considered more technical aspects which result in useful to assess the conditions for life emergence in the prebiotic times of Earth and L…
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Anonymous
4.0 a month ago
Anonymous is taking this course right now.
Very enjoyable course covering a lot of disciplines and providing a great introduction to exploring questions about life origins. Most of the videos were great, as well as the downloadable slides. A couple of videos had audio issues but overall 98% of them worked perfectly and were clear and comprehensive. The way the videos were broken out into section with mini quizzes worked well. I found it easier to digest the unit in smaller chunks and track my understanding with the quizzes after each video.

I also found it a lot more engaging to have the lecturer appear in the videos, compared to just voice overs and slides.

Thank You for providing this course.
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Anonymous
5.0 2 months ago
Anonymous is taking this course right now.
A great course from people who really know their stuff. As the Description warns, this is an active fields of research, not settled science, and students are given an overview of the various positions, an pointers to the research literature. I have completed five of the six weeks of lectures, and have downloaded 216 papers. I am trying to read them, but is will be a lot of effort.

The forums are active, so it is possible to discuss things which are of interest, and also get help when needed.
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Anonymous
4.0 4 weeks ago
Anonymous completed this course.
If I could give the course four and a half stars, I would! This was my first course with the Santa Fe Institute and I enjoyed it very much. The topics were all well presented and thought provoking. There were some great insights shared on the student forum, as well. A couple of the lectures suffered in the area of sound quality and/or subtitling, but overall the technical staff did a good job. I would have liked more depth in some topics. I intend to take another course via complexity explorer!
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Ray T
5.0 3 weeks ago
by Ray completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
This class was taught by charismatic, energetic and interesting researchers of the fields of abiogensis and astrobiology.

Sarah Maurer and Chris Kempes did an excellent job of putting together an engaging and informative course. Who would have thought that math would be so useful in studying the origins of life?

It also showed me how insightful knowledge of chemistry can be in the study how how life came to be.

All in all a great course!
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Anonymous
5.0 2 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Superb survey course on origin of life. Excellent resources provided

What stood out to me were the lectures on varying definitions of life towards the end - some of these from the information perspective. The course is a stepping stone to other studies in complexity theory/origin of life work. I think I can use material from the course in my own research.
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Anonymous
5.0 4 weeks ago
Anonymous completed this course.
An excellent course involving multiple disciplines delivered by experts in their various fields. At times it was pretty challenging, but this added to the enjoyment. It feels like we are close to unlocking a theory of life, which is very exciting.
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Anonymous
4.0 4 weeks ago
Anonymous completed this course.
It was really interesting to be able to get a sense of the breadth and the depth of the questions and the field. Some parts were challenging to follow as a result but I would pick this over simplification! Fascinated by life even more :)
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Anonymous
4.0 a month ago
Anonymous completed this course.
An effective coverage of a broad and complex subject. I learned much and it motivated me to learn more. I realized potential connections to other topics and ideas that I need to follow up on.
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Anonymous
5.0 4 weeks ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Excellent up-to-date course. Far exceeded my expectations. Delivered by a wide range of scientists in the field. Led me to further explore topics in suggested readings.
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Anonymous
5.0 3 weeks ago
Anonymous is taking this course right now.
it' s a very interesting and wonderful course also if sometimes i have had some difficult to follow the chemical part of course
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Anonymous
4.0 3 weeks ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Great course. Only few details to perfection. The multidisciplinary approach is the major strength of this course. Prerequisites should be better defined.
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Anonymous
4.0 3 weeks ago
Anonymous is taking this course right now.
Very good course, only had problems with the last part, which i could n´t made, but really good at all.
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