Life_on_Earth - Life on Earth Stephen Eikenberry 26 August...

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Life on Earth Stephen Eikenberry 26 August 2010 AST 2037 1
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Life: What is it? From people, to microbes, to tree, to GATORS 2
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Life: What is it? Things with the ability to reproduce AND the ability to evolve and adapt Why both of these? Flames can spread or “reproduce”, but they aren’t alive Crystals (i.e. salt) can also spread or grow, but they aren’t alive either Only living things evolve – meaning develop adaptations to their environment that improve their ability to continue 3
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Quick Aside on “evolution” In this instance, we mean “evolution” with a little “e” Meaning … not necessarily the origin of species (“Evolution” with a big “E” – though that is related) Rather, the short timescale adaptation to environment Note that “evolution” is a VERY well-established fact – all sorts of living critters evolve on easily-observed timescales: For instance, antibiotic-resistant microbes (like resistant tuberculosis) If you don’t believe in “evolution” … well, good luck (you’ll need it!) 4
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Life: What’s it Made of? Constituent elements of humans: H (61%), O (26%), C (10.5%), N (2.4%), Ca (0.23%), P (0.13%) Sun: H (91%), He (9%), O (0.08%), C (0.033%), Ne (0.011%), N (0.010%), … Earth crust: O (47%), Si (28%), Al (9.1%), Fe (5%), … Earth atmosphere: N (78%), O (21%), Ar (0.9%), C (0.04%), . . Hydrogen in us is mostly in H 2 O (water) Carbon – a key ingredient(!!) 5
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For any element, its distribution and structure of electrons determines many of its properties (i.e. color and chemical properties) Electrons are distributed in discrete shells (quantum physics) Carbon has a very “normal- looking” electron structure 6 electrons: Inner shell is “full” with 2
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Life_on_Earth - Life on Earth Stephen Eikenberry 26 August...

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