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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Physics Colloquium: Statistical Mechanics of the Genetic Code: A Glimpse of Early Life?

Relics of early life, preceding even the last universal common ancestor of all life on Earth, are present in the structure of the modern day canonical genetic code --- the map between DNA sequence and amino acids that form proteins. The code is not random, as often assumed, but instead is now known to have certain error minimisation properties. How could such a code evolve, when it would seem that mutations to the code itself would cause the wrong proteins to be translated, thus killing the organism? Using digital life simulations, Nigel Goldenfeld, UIUC, will show how a unique and optimal genetic code can emerge over evolutionary time, but only if horizontal gene transfer --- a network effect --- was a much stronger characteristic of early life than it is now. Full Abstract: {Will appear in FYI on Apr 10, 2012
Start Time:
4:00 PM
End Time:
5:00 PM
Common Location Name:
Web Address:
Other Contact Information:
Carole Cuaresma Kiger +1 301 405 5945

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