The chemical cosmos: a guided tour

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A Public lecture presented by:  Professor Steve Miller (UCL)



If you have ever wondered how we get from the awesome impersonality of the Big Bang universe to the point where living creatures can start to form, and evolve into beings like you, your friends and your family, wonder no more. Steve Miller will provide you with a tour through the chemical evolution of the universe, from the formation of the first molecules all the way to the chemicals required for life to evolve. Using a simple Hydrogen molecule – known as H-three-plus (H3+) - as a guide, we will go on a journey that starts with the birth of the first stars, and how, in dying, they pour their hearts out into enriching the universe in which we live.

Our molecular guide H3+ makes its first appearance at the source of the Chemical Cosmos, at a time when only three elements and a total of 13 molecules existed. From those simple beginnings, H-three-plus guides us down river on the violent currents of exploding stars, through the streams of the Interstellar Medium, and into the delta where new stars and planets form. We are finally left on the shores of the sea of life.


Professor Steve Miller is Professor of Science Communication and Planetary Science at University College London. He is a member of the European Space Agency’s Solar System Exploration Working Group and advises the UK Space Agency on its science and exploration programmes. Steve’s research interests include exploring the way in which astronomy is communicated in culturally diverse communities, such as the island of Hawai’i, and understanding the atmospheres of giant planets like our own Jupiter and Saturn, and some of the extrasolar planets that have been found orbiting stars “close” to our Sun. At UCL and in the wider European community Steve teaches scientists young and old how to engage and communicate with their fellow citizens. He is the author of The Chemical Cosmos: a guided tour, published by Springer.