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The Origins Center of the Netherlands has recently granted seed funding to explore the first steps towards establishing a Computational Origins of Life Simulator.

Wim Hordijk, IAS research fellow

The call for proposals of the Origins Center was aimed at small prospecting projects related to some of its core themes. Proposals were submitted for complementary activities that enhance and broaden the ‘pathfinder’ projects (see below).

Computational Origins of Life Simulator

The IAS was granted seed funding to explore the first steps towards establishing an in silico origins of life simulator. Our activities will enhance and broaden Pathfinder Project 1 "Developing, testing and operating the Origins Simulator" (in vitro), which aims to "provide real-time insights into the catalytic and self-organising processes that were crucial during the genesis of the building blocks of life on earth".

Working group with two IAS research fellows

A full-scale Computational Origins Simulator will require a long-term project. As a first step (approx. six months), we will initiate a working group of several experts in this field, including two IAS research fellows:

  • Prof. Stuart Kauffman (University of Pennsylvania and Institute for Systems Biology);
  • Dr. Wim Hordijk (UvA IAS research fellow 1-7/2018);
  • Prof. Roberto Serra (UvA IAS research fellow 5-6/2018);
  • Prof. Peter Sloot (UvA);
  • Dr. Jaap Kaandorp (UvA);
  • Prof. Sijbren Otto (RUG & Origins Center);
  • Dr. Omer Markovitch (RUG & Origins Center).

Over the coming months we will develop the first stages of a Computational Origins Simulator, largely based on the already existing theory and computational studies of autocatalytic sets, and establish a roadmap for further development of the simulator.


About the Origins Center

The Origins Center aims to bring together a broad range of scientific disciplines to address one of the biggest challenges in science: the origin, or origins, of life on earth and in the universe.

Its mission is to spark and facilitate transdisciplinary research between scientists associated with Dutch universities and research institutes to develop game-changing understanding of the origin of life and of life-bearing planets, predicting evolution, building and steering life from molecule to biosphere, finding extra-terrestrial life and developing the mathematical understanding needed for bridging large spatial, temporal and organisatorial scale differences.

Pathfinder projects

1. Developing, testing and operating the Origins Simulator
2. Identifying factors enabling predictability of evolution
3. Building and directing life
4. Modelling planet earth as an exoplanet
5. Mathematically understanding downward causation.

The Origins Center sprang from the Dutch National Science Agenda.