by Jim Nintzel
The UA College of Science Lecture Series on Life in the Universe continues tonight with Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Associate Professor Anna R. Dornhaus speaking on "Complexity and Evolvability: What Makes Life So Interesting?"
Dornhaus gives a terrific lecture, so it's well worth your time to head on down to Centennial Hall on the UA campus. The talk starts at 7 p.m., but it was just about full when I attended last week's talk, so you should aim to get there early for this one. It's free and you can find more details here.
Here's a preview of what Dornhaus will be discussing:
Life is particularly fascinating in its ability to create complex and ever-changing forms out of simple building blocks. How does such complexity arise, and what are the conditions that allow never-ending evolution of new and more intricate forms of life? We now know that one of the main processes that allows this is that life consists of modules that interact with and feed back on one another. In the history of life on Earth, new levels of complexity have often arisen out of new types of such interactions, and continued evolution has been driven by life interacting with other life. We even find that man-made systems can develop a 'life' of their own when such feedback interactions among many modules occur. Life, it seems, is more about rules of interaction than special materials. We have only begun to understand the power of this algorithmic nature of life.