15-19 January (the week following the 12th ELSI Symposium) a series of smaller and more focused follow-up "aftershops" will be held at ELSI. All who are interested in these topics are welcome to participate. If there is sufficient interest, remote participation may be arranged for those who are not able to attend in-person. Please fill out the registration forms for any (or all) of the aftershops you are interested in attending. We will use this information to schedule and plan each aftershop, and send relevant information by e-mail.

Aftershop 1: Detection of Living Systems in Deep Space and Time

Convenors: John Hernlund (ELSI) and Shaunna Morrison (Carnegie Institution)

Abstract: Life is an open system. It is both an intimate participant in, and product of, its environment. The advent of life arises from a convergence of natural processes, and its appearance in turn alters that environment in fundamental ways. In order to detect the extent of life in space-time, it is useful to consider the bigger picture of what a living environment looks like, moving beyond particular biosignatures towards more general systemic patterns and characteristics. We aim to address this question by combining perspectives from both deep space (life detection on other planets) and deep time (life detection in the ancient past).

Registration: Please fill the registration form at this link.

Plan/Schedule: We will hold an initial planning meeting at 10:00 on Monday 15 January. We have also provisionally scheduled a meeting on Tuesday 16 January at 10:00. We will meet in the ELSI Agora (2F), and may migrate to another space if necessary.

Aftershop 2: Pre-biotic Chemistry

Convenor: Yuichiro Ueno (ELSI)

Abstract: Our symposium brings together experts in numerous chemical, biological, and computational fields important for understanding protometabolism and the earliest metabolic evolution.  They have studied energy systems, catalytic environments, network topologies, the possibilities for amplification and reagent concentration (network catalysis and autocatalysis), and strategies for estimating and controlling combinatorial diversity in reactions and pathways.  A startling coherence is emerging between species and reactions that are readily realized in organic geochemistry on young, active earthlike planets, and those that are central to the biosphere.  From this starting point, and with the expertise gathered in the symposium participants, we should ask: What next?  What questions are nearest our reach that are urgent to understand.  What synergies of method are possible from expertise already developed in the community, but not yet in active collaboration?  Finally, can we see new questions from the vantage point of current results that were not recognized before?

Registration: Please fill the registration form at this link.

Plan/Schedule: 14:00 Monday 15 January (meet in the ELSI Agora, 2F).

Aftershop 3: Emergence of Folded MAtter

Convenor: Eric Smith and Liam Longo (ELSI)

Abstract: Day 3 of our Symposium is meant to open a long-term discussion of the macromolecule stages in the origin of life and deep evolution.  It has considered the chemical context for synthesis and selection of monomers and polymers, the physical processes that underlie folding and molecular assembly, the nature of folded states as both thresholds that require information to cross, and platforms on which that information enables the evolution of most biological functions and higher-order structures.  We recognize that deep expertise has accrued in the bioinformatics and evolutionary interpretation of folds and their sub-fold motifs and themes, and the complexes they form; in the molecular dynamics and modeling of folding and folded states; and most recently in de novo design both from traditional methods and using new tools such as language models.  Expanded data, novel algorithms, and enhanced computing power continue to push the reconstructed history of folds deeper in time and lower in scale, through the major branches of the tree of life and for some features even before the Last Universal Common Ancestor of cellular lineages.  We want to know whether, when all these understandings meet, there emerges a theory of folded matter as an informationally-defined state of matter, which can be used to discriminate chance from necessity in the earliest molecular evolution, and was essential to arriving at many defining features of life.  Going forward, what are the most interesting questions not yet being pursued?  Are there ways we can further support the integration of the deep but diverse viewpoints that make up our current understanding of folded matter, to discover its most fundamental organizing concepts?

Registration: Please fill the registration form at this link.

Plan/Schedule: To be announced

Aftershop 4: Perspectives on the potential discovery of life beyond Earth

Convenor: Thilina Heenatigala (ELSI), Mary Voytek (NASA) and Pedro Russo (Leiden University)

Abstract: The search for evidence of potentially habitable environments and life beyond Earth has generated buzz-worthy content and is increasingly prominent in astrobiology. Reports on evidence of life in the Martian meteorite ALH84001 and the detection of phosphine gas in Venus’s atmosphere are examples of research results -- both strongly contested -- that prompted a storm of social media and news content. The astrobiology community is in the process of developing standards of evidence for confirming the existence of extraterrestrial life. This discussion session invites an open dialogue on current efforts and understanding in scientific and science communication communities that are working on the evidence of life beyond Earth.

Registration: Please fill the registration form at this link.

Plan/Schedule: Tuesday, 16 January 2024, 14:00-15:30 at Agora, ELSI.