>A talk delivered by Nick Lane, Professor of Evolutionary Biochemistry, Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London.
In this talk, Professor Nick Lane uses life as a guide to its own origins. Modern cells use electrical charges on membranes to drive their metabolism, which in turn makes the building blocks of genes and proteins. Lane shows that equivalent processes were possible in ancient hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean. Electrical charges on mineral barriers can drive the reaction of gases such as hydrogen and carbon dioxide to power a spontaneous proto-metabolism, and ultimately the emergence of genetic information. The genetic code conceals enigmatic patterns that suggest there were once direct interactions between amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, and the first genes. The talk ends with some thoughts on how these processes might culminate in cells developing agency and a rudimentary stream of consciousness.

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