BiPiSci: Is Life Inevitable? (5-18-2019)

Playlist for Show: Big Picture Science

A new theory about life’s origins updates Darwin’s warm little pond.  Scientists say they’ve created the building blocks of biology in steaming hot springs. Meanwhile, we visit a NASA lab where scientists simulate deep-sea vent chemistry to produce the type of environment that might spawn life.  Which site is best suited for producing biology from chemistry?

Find out how the conditions of the early Earth were different from today, how meteors seeded Earth with organics, and a provocative idea that life arose as an inevitable consequence of matter shape-shifting to dissipate heat. Could physics be the driving force behind life’s emergence?


  • Caleb Scharf – Director of Astrobiology at Columbia University, New York
  • Laurie Barge – Research scientist in astrobiology at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Bruce Damer – Research scientist in biomolecular engineering, University of California,
  • Jeremy England – Physicist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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