205: Professor Charles S. Cockell | Astrobiology, And How Physics Shapes Evolution, In “The Equations of Life”

Biology will reach out to the endless openness, but it will be limited and managed by physics and the equations that govern our universe. In this episode, we discuss with Professor Charles S. Cockell of the University of Edinburgh about topics in his book The Equations of Life.

Before Professor Cockell taught in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh, he was a Professor of Geomicrobiology and microbiologist with the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge. He got his doctorate in Molecular Biophysics at Oxford University, and has published over 300 scientific papers in the categories of astrobiology, geomicrobiology, and life in extreme environments. As well, he has contributed to plans for Mars exploration.

In my episode with Professor Cockell, we discussed:

  • Professor Cockell’s fascination with space and biology
  • the progression he made in his career to the University of Edinburgh
  • what kind of research he performed in his time at the Antarctic
  • examining life at the boundaries of what is physically viable
  • where in our solar system may have opportunity for viability
  • what kinds of studies Professor Cockell has been part of designing
  • involving incarcerated individuals in a moon-like confinement study
  • a ladybug physics project that the professor set for his students
  • predictability of biology and physics, and thoughts on free will
  • how the things around us are not so out of place based on the laws
  • the Great Filter that Professor Hanson from episode 202 spoke about
  • the power laws connecting metabolism and energy production
  • how the sky can be perceived differently on different parts of the Earth
  • features of individuals that are taken note of, like being open-minded

You can check out his university page, look at his list of publications, or head to his book’s Amazon listing. It was great to have him on, and we connected on some key topics.