Life, Evolution, Universe
This theme covers all of the natural sciences and it revolves around the central concept of evolution, starting from the earliest stages of the Big Bang to the evolution of complex life on planet Earth. The concept of evolution is approached from various disciplines, emphasising their interconnections. The focus will be on the evolution of the universe, the evolution of planet Earth, and the evolution of complex life.
Three subjects have been selected for this course:
1. The Big Bang
- The hot Big Bang. Nucleosynthesis and the first atoms.
- Content and evolution of the universe, formation of structures at cosmological scales.
- The first stars, formation of heavy elements, planets and the solar system.
2. Dynamics of the Earth system
- Geological time: a central dimension
- Major events in Earth’s history
- Plate tectonics as a cycle
- Basic isotopic systems
- Co-evolution of Earth and life
3. Milestones in the evolution of life
- The first tantalisingly elusive traces of life and the emergence of prokaryotes
- Becoming complex: emergence of eukaryotic cells
- Emergence of animals and the Cambrian explosion