Breathing Life into the Laws of Physics

Sara Walker

Fundamental physics has been a great success story. Yet the central phenomenon of our existence - life itself - has been left out. Join theoretical physicist and astrobiologist, Sara Walker.

About the Course

Fundamental physics has been a great success story. Yet the central phenomenon of our existence - life itself - has been left out. Physics and biology are traditionally treated as entirely separate disciplines, but, increasingly, developments in thinking about information and a radical new conversation about what a scientific law might even look like, suggest they have more to learn from each other than we think. And this might just help us shed light on the deepest problems of existence and usher in a new paradigm of scientific thought.

So what is life, really? What are laws of nature and can they evolve, as they do in biology? Why has it been so difficult to investigate the origin of life on earth and how can we make progress? What is information and how can information theory help us radically shift our framing of the problems? And what should we be doing to find life on other planets?

Theoretical physicist and astrobiology Sara Walker shows us how to breathe life into the laws of physics and, in doing so, provide a radical new framework to finally understand what life itself is.

By the end of the course, you will have learnt:

  • How investigations in physics and biology differ and what they can learn from each other
  • Everything we know (so far) about information
  • Why unifying information and matter might be the next big leap in physics
  • What the relationship between life and information is
  • What experiments we actually need to be running to explore the emergence of life on earth
  • How we might actually be able to discover life on other planets

IAI Academy courses are designed to be challenging but accessible to the interested student. No specialist knowledge is required.

About the Instructor

  • Sara Walker

    Sara Walker is a theoretical physicist and astrobiologist. Her fascinating insights into the origins of life, astrobiology, physics of life has les to her being featured on TED as well as the acclaimed Lex Fridman Podcast in recent years.

Course Syllabus

  • Part One: The Universal Laws of Life
    Are we overdue an understanding of life that takes seriously the universal laws that underpin it? Walker explores the exciting paradigm shift in our thinking we may need to finally understand our living existence.
  • Part Two: The Origin of Life in the Universe
    Many scientists focus their life-research on trying to recreate the conditions of how life emerged on Earth. But what if we dream bigger and start theorising a less parochial form of life?