Biology at the Edge of Life

instnat life

life itself trinity programme

The final seminar of the 2018-19 year at Life Itself will focus on questions of "microlife", and two species in particular: sea monkeys and water bears (Tardigrada). We'll romp across pop culture, biology, philosophy, and ecology to see how these most innocuous of creatures are in fact fascinating examples of organisms that often inhabit a strange grey zone between life and death known as cryptobiosis. How do we think of life in these extreme conditions that border on death? Can we think philosophically with sea monkeys?

We'll also ask a number of other wide-ranging questions, including: How might notions of dormancy and hibernation in this weird biological world translate into larger questions to do with preservation and heritage (for instance, concerning the Svalbard Seed Bank and anxieties around climate change)? In what ways do capitalism and consumerism intersect with the living world? What are the politics of "instant life"?

This seminar will feature short presentations by network co-convenors Madeleine Chalmers and Sam Gormley. All welcome, absolutely no expertise required. Just your childhood memories of sea monkeys. Coffee, tea, and biscuits provided! The Sutro Room is fully accessible.