CRiO = Collaborative for Research in Origins
What do we want to understand?
Life is a global-scale bio-geo-chemical phenomenon. To understand it, we must understand the geophysical context of life’s presence on our planet; how it came to be and how life and Earth have changed one another over billions of years.
How does CRiO fit with my learning goals?
The guiding hypothesis of CRiO is that life will arise on a planet like Earth, given the availability of 4 components.
These are: organic raw materials, free energy from disequilibria, liquid water and time; but our caveats to this are also that (1) the first steps to life are the most difficult, and (2) that evolution has no direction.
The late Stanley Miller - the father of prebiotic chemistry - used to say that “the origin of life is the origin of Darwinian evolution”. In the spirit of that statement, we view a plausible corollary as: “the origin of evolution is the origin of information.” The Earth’s crust provides the ultimate template for biological evolution and therefore it makes sense to know more about the substrate for life on our world if we are to consider life anywhere else in the cosmos.
Thus, to understand how life emerged and diversified here, we need to know the nature of the Earth’s mantle and crust, its transformation, and how it interacts with the hydrosphere and atmosphere. To understand this evolution, we need to understand the planet. To understand the planet, we need to study rocks. As a geologist - a person who actively studies rocks - I am your best guide to this information.