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SEK 100 000 to popularise evolution

Lund biologist Jessica Abbott has been awarded a SEK 100 000 project grant from Natur & Kultur. She will use the funds to write a popular science book for adults on the critical tipping points throughout the history of life on Earth up until the appearance of intelligence.
Jessica Abbott
The focus is on tipping points when Jessica Abbott receives SEK 100 000 to write a popular science book about the evolution. Photo: Inger Ekström

How has life on earth developed? Why has evolution taken a certain path and could it have been different? These are the kinds of questions that Jessica Abbott will be tackling together with science journalist Torill Kornfeldt.

However, the two authors are not content with Earth. In their book, they also explore the possibility of life developing on other planets. However, if it has happened it is far from certain that humans would identify it as life even if they fell over it.

“Life on earth is water-based. There may be life with a different chemical composition and it is not at all certain that we would recognise it”, says Jessica Abbott.

One critical tipping point in the evolution of life on Earth is the transformation from bacteria to eukaryotic cells, the fact that parts merged and formed a new individual. Another was when sex and gender developed from a way of repairing DNA to having a reproductive function.  

“These are the sorts of questions we plan to raise in the book. Why did things turn out like this? Could things be different?” says Jessica Abbott.

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