News - January 25, 2018

Chemist Cronin kicks off centenary

Text:
Roelof Kleis

The university’s centennial celebrations will kick off on 9 March with the British chemist Lee Cronin. As the keynote speaker at the Dies Natalis event, he will talk about his quest for the origins of life.

© University of Glasgow

Cronin (44) is professor of Chemistry at the University of Glasgow, where he heads the very successful Cronin Group. This group researches the creation of complex chemical structures in inorganic chemistry. One of its aims is to develop an inorganic biology: a form of life that is based not on carbon but on any random dominant element.

Cronin wants to redefine what is meant by life. He sees the carbon-based biology on Earth as a special case. Now he is looking for the underlying general principles, whereby the evolutionary principle of the survival of the fittest is the driving force. According to Cronin, there are general principles, driven by evolution, that always lead to life. In a nod to Einstein, he calls this the general theory of evolution.


The decision to invite Cronin as a keynote speaker is connected to the theme of the centennial celebrations (Wisdom and Wonder). It also ties in with the theme of the masterclasses (Unravelling Life) that will be held on that day by the scientists who are being awarded an honorary doctorate. The Science Week that follows the event will centre on the question of what life is exactly.

Cronin is a popular public speaker. His presentation in 2012 during the TEDGlobal is shown below.

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