Sigma Xi Science Cafe Next Monday, Nov. 9, at Thunderhead

Dr. William Wozniak
professor, Department of Psychology, 308.865.8242

UNK Chapter of Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Society

Presents a Science Café

Monday, November 9, 2009

5 PM

Thunderhead Brewery (second floor)

18 East 21st Street

Origins of Biological Homo-Chirality :

A Physicists Approach

Dr. Kenneth W. Trantham, Physics and Physical Science

University of Nebraska at Kearney


A simple observation about life on plant Earth shows that, of molecules that can exist in a ‘handed’ form, life will only use one of those form.  A ‘handed’ molecule is one which does not show mirror symmetry, called ‘chiral’ after the Greek.  A simple example is a bolt: common engineering practice uses right-handed bolts, but left-handed bolts also exist.  We will demonstrate some of the fundamental observations between chiral molecules and light, first discovered by Pasture.  Also, we will demonstrate how chiral molecules interact differently with the human senses.  We will discuss briefly a simple theory about how life could have began on Earth demonstrate and discuss possible theories explaining terrestrial homo-chirality.  One particular model rests on beta decay, i.e. spin polarized electrons.  We will discuss some recent research using spin-polarized electrons to support this theory as well as future scientific directions of the spin-polarized electron group in BHS 105.