Scientific Calendar Event

Abstract: Water is often considered as the Elixir of life. Despite long study, the physical and chemical principles underlying its fundamental properties as well as its special status in the origin of life problem, continues to be a subject of lively debate. In this talk, I will attempt to challenge some notions on the requirement of water in prebiotic chemistry and provide some broader perspectives on open problems in aqueous science. Some of the essential ingredients of the primordial soup include the presence of molecular networks involving hydrogen bonds and an assortment of different types of interfaces. In this context, atomistic simulations have played an important role in providing a microscopic picture of the important interactions and fluctuations that sustain the life of molecules in solution. Specifically, I will show how molecular simulations combined with smart data mining and stochastic theory, can reveal non-trivial properties ranging from the branched empty spaces in liquids, the topology of networks at hydrophobic surfaces and finally to the dynamical fingerprints of water near biological surfaces. I will try to contextualize some of these phenomena within the origin of life problem with some cautious speculations on the role of other liquids in prebiotic chemistry.
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