Join us for our monthly meeting and enjoy the lecture on:
“What astronomy can tell us about the origins of life on Earth” by Professor Hough.
The origin of life on Earth remains one of the key questions for science, and the discovery of over 1000 extrasolar planets has raised the possibility of discovering life elsewhere in the next few decades.
We now know that all the elements, other than hydrogen, are produced in stars and that process, starting with the Big Bang, is fairly well understood. However, there is a long-standing puzzle associated with the origins of life on Earth that we do not understand. All the amino acids, the building blocks of our proteins, have a left-handed configuration. How this asymmetry, which appears to be an essential pre-requisite for life, originated has remained a mystery for over 150 years. Our own observations of star-forming regions has led to the idea that the asymmetry could have been introduced into prebiotic molecules during the formation of the solar system.
Professor James Hough led the astronomy research programme at the University of Hertfordshire for over 30 years and was appointed as the first Director of the Centre for Astrophysics when it was established in 2003. The Centre has over 60 researchers and covers a wide range of astronomy from exoplanets to high-redshift galaxies.
He has published ~200 refereed papers with a majority of these based on polarimetric observations in the optical and near-infrared using instruments designed and built by himself and used at major observatories in Australia, Hawaii and the Canary Islands.
Professor Hough was awarded the Daiwa-Adrian prize for UK-Japan scientific collaborations in 1998, and the Royal Astronomical Society William Herschel Medal in 2010. He retired as Director of the Astronomy Research Centre in July 2010.
£2 for members and £3 for guests.
Please note the new address for this meeting.