How Did Life Begin?

How Did Life Begin?

Science  -   60 Comments
Ratings: 7.30/10 from 37 users.

How Did Life Begin?tIn this documentary Nobel Prize recipient Sir Harry Kroto attempts to answer one of world’s most puzzling question: how did life on earth come to be?

The chemistry has amazing power to explain the world around us. But this documentary is pushing its limits. Seek an answer for the deepest question the human beings asked themselves with Nobel Prize winner chemist Sir Harold (Harry) Walter Kroto: How did life begin?

How did life actually begin in Earth? How are lives linked to the fate of the stars? Take a look at the recent scientific research in the field and learn about the ancient world of RNA and DNA.

There are of course no definitive answers offered by this documentary, but we get the feeling that we are closer than ever to discovering the answer to the age old question of how life began.

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60 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Planet X

    he needs to stop saying those lame ass none excisting numbers who does he think he is are we supossed to belive theres numbers like that.

  2. Devil Travels

    There must be a second part to this documentary that explains if or if not the experiment worked to sow all of the chemicals to build RNA were achievable.

  3. Marty

    It still will never explain how a baby can fend for itself to grow into an adult. 3 days without water, dead. No way of getting food, dead. The environment would probably cause death due to exposure to the elements. Not in anyway, shape or form could this be possible.

  4. Walakhe

    Humans are not proportional to earth ?

  5. Kip Keino

    I liked the documentary. It didn't try to complicate the issue, and instead Sir Harry explain in clear concise ways - what we've learned and where we're headed. Good job!

    1. Brion Allen, an old and not great runner


      Are you Kipchoge, the great Kenyan runner? I was in awe of him (you?) as I watched the Olympics. And I saw in person Jim Ryun set the world mile record in 1966 at UC Berkeley.

  6. Tony Walker

    Isn't it peculiar that these people lived for thousands of years without knowing there is a hell,,,mark twain

  7. Core Luminous

    Whilst it's an interesting piece, the primary conceit of this cultural perspective, and it's obsession with linearity, and with a certain repetitive continuity of it's status, as a culture, is that it assumes that some (the 'civilised')) human beings are the superior intelligence amongst the living organisms of Earth.

    Given the obvious adverse affects of 'civilisation' , comparing those with the ever incrementally increasing natural fecundity and bio-diversity, I would argue that the obverse is true.

    The issue of the source of life is irrelevant, as we are, clearly emergent natural organisms. Bags of Bacteria. We came from earth.

    And if our stories are to have meaning within the context of Earth's natural bio-diversity and incremental increase of over all fecundity for all life, then THAT is where we need to look. To where our practices do not support, or where they cause damage to, those natural processes. To gauge our practices such that they are nurturant, in the bio-logical sense of the word.

  8. Adam Young

    truth is nobody CAN know how life began because we only have ever had an inside perspective on it. it's like somebody who is bound in a 2 dimentional world trying to contemplate 3D. we make our assumtions of the universe with the arrogant belief that human perception is lacking nothing yet their are animals on earth who's natural abilities of perception make us look handicaped and because of this our science is limited to the parimeters of our understanding. so in some areas, our science is still a student, a novice at best.

    1. Karen Rose

      The expansive power of Tao is imperishable...

    2. Karen Rose

      All can be known and verified through consciousness.

    3. Adam Young

      human consciousness ? do you think every animal on this planet experiences consciousness the same ? if your referring to out of body consciousness than yes. but until then...

    4. Sanjaydas

      i know how life begin in earth when i was thinking on it i did not sleep 8 to ten day therefor i have to face devil/ God psychological problem on that time. but i have seen lady sole was standing in down stair of my home in nigth but next day that lady called baba for sole she was telling she was unable to move his body in nigth but i have seen her in nigth in street when i have seen from balcony no one is in the street.i have seen life began in earth in mud mixture in water of atom creat virus envirnment help to change in to insect to dinasour every living thing needs different % of oxygen when envirount change big animals were death becoz % of oxygen reduce in enviourment than that differnt enviourment gives different whether its changed living thing. there is a huge story how indian powerful gods died and other dissepeare after than islam came when people dont belive in gods ideals than again human god gesus but people killed them after that in india many human became god

  9. markyansen

    good doc

  10. Terry Beaton

    I agree with those who complain the doc. was disapointingly superficial. But what do you expect? Nobody, as far as I can tell can begin to explain the spontanious emergence of "matabolism" from inert substances. Scientists will tell you that Science will someday prove how it happened, but as of yet they still can't explain the origin of the Big Bang. I see both of these mysteries as questions that will never be explained by Science alone. It may take something more akin to a futuristic Mysticism/Science hybrid feild of enquiry to begin to approach it. Or a God source revelation. Or maybe an Issac Asimov (we are God) moment.?!!? hahaha...Oh! I almost had it!

  11. geome_44

    @Joe Johnson

    "I am kind of surprised that this doc did not mention Charles Darwin."
    -Darwin only came up with the concept of evolution. Evolution only deals with bio-diversity, not the beginning -not the theory of abiogenesis.

    "Even Einstein believed in some kind of supernatural force or superior being that also could be considered in the creation of the universe."
    -Yeah, so?

    "The big bang theory was also not mentioned or did I miss that?"
    -The big bang deals with the creation of the universe. Life forms on earth came after the Big Bang, long after.

    "Also he uses the thousand-million standard, instead of just saying a billion."
    -Don't worry, I've already sent a threatening letter to Sir Harry Kroto, demanding an apology.

    "It also comes down to the obvious question of Who created God."
    -Only a theist would ever think this. And for some odd reason they fear it. A majority scientist don't even bother asking this question because a Deity cannot be explained through natural means i.e. science.

    "Nobody really cares if somebody is an atheist or deist, to each his own."
    -Yeah, right...

    1. 1SlapHappy1

      I have to jump in here and say Darwin did NOT come up with evolution as a hypothesis. Change over time has been suggested long before Darwin. Darwin's proven theory is Natural Selection, and the facts that he accumulated to prove Natural Selection support evolutionary theory.

  12. Joe Johnson

    Nothing really new here that your average high school student wouldn't know.
    I am kind of surprised that this doc did not mention Charles Darwin. Also, I don't think Watson "stumbled" onto the double helix of DNA as was stated in the piece, he actually worked to arrive at finding the double helix as stated in his book. Even Einstein believed in some kind of supernatural force or superior being that also could be considered in the creation of the universe.
    The big bang theory was also not mentioned or did I miss that? Also he uses the thousand-million standard, instead of just saying a billion. It also comes down to the obvious question of Who created God. But I digress. Nobody really cares if somebody is an atheist or deist, to each his own.

  13. Kelly Mitchell


    I'm an atheist, but I do not subscribe to scientific materialism - I feel strongly there is something more. In fact, to deny immateriality is to deny space - which is so defined. It further denies time, which is not a material/energy continua construct.
    Your question - why do only spiritual/religious people have these experiences is inaccurate. Many atheists have had NDE's and it changed them - some believed in God, but most just believed in something beyond the physical plane without defining it.

    The very idea of strict materialism in a world with 'laws of nature' is in fact a direct contradiction - where and what are these laws? They act yet have no physical substance. You cannot find a corporeal thing which is a law of nature - yet all materialists scientists will tell you that laws of nature exist. I find no attempt to explain this inherent contradiction in scientific theory. It is merely ignored

    Finally, the phenomenon of quantum entaglement proves the materialist project wrong - or very nearly so. It's been 80 years + and the best 'explanation' we have is the wildly metaphysical many worlds theory - completely unfalsifiable by even the most speculative means. Meaning - the best theory is NOT scientific.

    That's the state of play in science.

  14. smugg

    why poland?

  15. ali

    pls learn the fact from islam

  16. ali

    you will get to know the fact in the quran a revelation from ALLAH the creator of the whole universe who also make u to exist

    1. Joe

      REALLY???? Yeah, and Santa Claus is coming to town too.

    2. Curt Holland

      aaagggghhhhhh leave it at the mosque

    3. David Brands

      Well, did you ever think that Allah gave you brain to learn from experience and empirical evidence? To believe the unknown is only understandable by Allah or Yahweh or God is the sign of a lazy, uninquisitive mind. It has been said we only use an average of 10% of our brain's true potential. Why not use it?

  17. Andrew

    I still hope that someday somebody will answer this question with the truth.

    1. Karen Rose

      External objects are projections of the cosmic mind, the Ishvari Shakti.

  18. Andy

    10^9 is a billion and 10^12 is a trillion. ive never heard anyone regard 10^12 as a billion before, with exception to the possibility of a member of the u.s. congressional budget committee. i joke. and in all seriousness the u.s. debt is overrated. as a percentage of gdp, we saw way worse debt during wwII. but thats a different topic for different time.

    @charles b., i welcome your arguments of spirituality and religion and in no way intend to further corner your viewpoints or comment on your level of intelligence, but i feel it necessary to point out my reactions to your previous comments.

    Why is it that you and so many others in the religious community tend to be so fortunate so as to more frequently have these spiritual experiences? I'd love for the life of me to have just one spiritual vision or awakening.

    You would presumably argue that this is a result of my lack of faith. I would argue the same thing - that it is my lack of faith that has lead me to never having experienced anything of sacred value, or anything even remotely close. but where your argument stops mine continues, because i would also add that i don't view the world through the context of mysticism whereas you do. coincidence? i think not.

  19. Galloway Grumblefield

    I enjoyed this short but sweet documentary. I really get knots in my neck when the Bible crowd comes in and ruins the conversation with their ridiculous, dead end propositions, like the one above about why humans die when a bullet enters their brain. That question has a logical, scientific answer, but it is only, at best, tangentially related to the topic at hand. It is absurd to call this documentary "simplistic", and then answer it with even more simplistic questions. We are left with the possibility that RNA is the answer to the origin of life. Why RNA runs down or degrades, causing old age and death is another subject that, with time, research and patience, will also be answered with a scientific, not a Biblical explanation.

    1. Karen Rose

      If it held its connection with source energy, from where the idea came it would not run down or degenerate. Missfirings occur so that errors are manufactured into the code. Got any scars?

  20. Max

    Stroke victims are example of the brain as a electro-chemical system. I don't recommend it.

  21. yourboycal

    dna or rna ?

  22. laowho

    This was very superficial. Much better is the documentary, "The Quest for Life."

    This was really lame. Sorry. Can anyone tell me, from this "docu," how life began? And why is science so stuck in the rut of thinking so linearly, as if anything really has a beginning or an end? Is it because of the predominance of the Big Bang MODEL, or some hangover from the (narrowest) Judeo-Christian view of time? Jeez...are there no poets or mystics in science any more? What has happened to imagination, open-mindedness, humility, awe and possibility?

    Watch "The Quest for Life" to see what happens to the organic molecules carried in meteorites when they slam into the earth--how amino acids and protein chains form from the collision. Or how, when catastrophic meteoric events extinguish 90% of existing life, 10x the number of previously existing species appear afterwards.

    1. Karen Rose

      These people are being prepared for upload, there is no space for imagination, open mindedness humility, or awe.

  23. laowho

    Robert Anton Wilson: I liked his "Maybe Logic" very much.

  24. Nate

    "...4-and-a-half-thousand-million years ago." hahaha, never heard it put quite that way hahah

  25. John Seals

    You seem a good chap but perpetuating this rubish is dangerouse. Our children are growing up in 21st century still being told that magic exist. In the United Staes the misguided loyalty that religion commands decides elections at local and federal levels. I appreciate your sence of humor but this is no laughing matter. You say you have both, that is impossible. One arguement destroys the other completely. Either you believe in the scientific method and thierfore not in the super natural or vice versa. Let go of what you have been told and what your unaided sences interpret, trust the facts. This is how we should make decisions in this world.Morality has taught us how to wage war humanely, science gets rid of the war all together. Morality will in fact just be the way we live when we finally let go of all the fairy tales.

    1. Karen Rose

      Science is as much faith as anything else. As I presume that you have not carried out all the experiments and verified every thing in a lab then you take what science tells you on faith. The pity is, is that you do not see how you have been brainwashed and that you have become a programmable machine who cannot think or decipher wisdom. On the other hand had you developed your inner potential and your heart instead of letting them atrophy you would know that all knowledge is structured in consciousness. Knowledge means knowing .. something else that you know little of.

    2. Vlatko

      @Karen Rose,

      Right, since you're trying to teach him a lesson about consciousness, I suppose you have a "tao black belt", or something. But why I have an impression that a guy who knows something about "consciousnesses" will not behave as you do now.

      Anyways, let me explain you that what science tells you is not relying on faith. You say:

      "As I presume that you have not carried out all the experiments and verified every thing in a lab then you take what science tells you on faith."

      The beauty is that every single scientific experiment is very well described, and repeated over countless of times by number of people around the globe. If you by any chance doubt in any experiment done by thousands of people, and you don't want to take it on faith, you are free in any time to repeat it if you want.

      But I suspect you'll do any experiments. For you It is much easier to put someone down by saying: "Knowledge means knowing .. something else that you know little of." As if you know much of.

  26. Celoril

    A good quote? One question destroys that quote. Does Robert Anton Wilson really believe what he had said? If so he has killed intelligence, if not, why should we believe it?

  27. Hardy

    Just jumping into this discussion :-) :

    @Charles B. - "life is more than chemical reactions"

    Would you be convinced that it is if humans manage to assemble a complete cell from scrap? (= only through chemical reactions)

  28. Charles B.

    P.S. What's the deal with all the lettace references? Ok. Joke time:

    How do you make a honeymoon saland?

    It's just . . . . . "lettace alone!" :-) Get it? Let us alone? Ha ha ha.

  29. Charles B.

    Eric Howe: I agree. Squabling won't accomplish much. Nonetheless, that was a really a good quote! I wish I had been the one to think of something so clever. I like it even as I have to disagree with it.

    Perhaps I would conceed that we should never stop asking questions on most of life (especially in the realm of science), but in the matter of one's deepest faith, the rock solid are the winners in the end. But then again, that's just what I BELIEVE---which fall back under your quote!

    P.S. What is your picture? It looks like . . . . cherry pie!?! I haven't had that for years and years here in Korea. ;-)

  30. Eric Howe

    I won't waste time arguing with you Charles B. If you think that the Christian and Jewish bibles are the infallible word of your god then there's nothing to discuss as you are not open to changing your mind; this certainty indicates a life half lived and possibly half lettuce as well.

    "My own opinion is that belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence. The more certitude one assumes, the less there is left to think about, and a person sure of everything would never have any need to think about anything and might be considered clinically dead under current medical standards, where absence of brain activity is taken to mean that life has ended."
    —Robert Anton Wilson

  31. Tim

    I know Charles, I was just kidding =). I am, however, half lettuce.

  32. Charles B.

    Tim: I wasn't specifically thinking of you with that particular thought. That wasn't my intention. I just meant we are all "spiritual" in some way even if we don't make the fullest potential of that spirituality. If fact, I feel that is the greater part of who I am. Perhaps I should have said that "I would feel half human" if I had no faith.

  33. Tim

    I'm only half human? Oh noes.

  34. Charles B.

    Eric Howe: I don't think I suffer from lack of immagination. In fact, I believe my mind and the way I see life is extremely active and becoming more so every day. I love both science and have faith as well; I'm one of the lucky few that have both. I've met people face to face who have been miraculously healed of terminal cancer, heart disease, asthma(Dr. verified before and after), and who have died (for a short time-- her name is pat Maynard) and seen Jesus face to face, and others who have met angels and talked with them. Have you?

    You might dismiss the angels and Jesus stories they tell, but when a person no longer has cancer that's a bit harder to "debunk" don't ya think? Her name was Estelle Greene (some kind of interanl cancer) by the way, and Dr. Rio Barallas (breast cancer), and Fayrene Barkemeyer (some kind of squimicell cancer) and that is just 3 I know of off the top of my head personally.

    I think it takes more intellectual ability to both understand and appreciate science and theology and the things of faith together. I read and think a great deal about not just science, but life.

    When you devoid yourself of God (and therefore the things of God), you're only half human (no pun intended), meaning you're only living up to half your God-given purpose in life.

    Life is more than chemical reactions, and that is why there is some much "spiritualism" worldwide. We as humans long for the supernatural as much as for food and water. Why deprive yourself of the experience if you are not intellectually "lazy" like I am as you say?

    It's difficult for me to not use the Bible and other personal experiences when talking with you guys, but the facts remain that there ARE spiritual things that non-believers miss out on all the time that cannot just be explained by "chemical reactions" in the natural realm.

    I'm sorry for being a little foreward, Eric, but it's a bit insulting to be called "intellectually lazy" just because I have a faith in a God that you don't believe exists.

    1. gallowaygrumblefield

      Charles B.: I don't want you to see this as an attack, but a way a secular humanist such as myself would respond to the claims of "spontaneous" or miraculous healing. In your comment to E. Howe, you used Jesus and miraculous healing in the same sentence. This is my proposition: Let's say we look at 100 cases of people with cancer in remission. Half might say "Jesus", but the other half might not say anything, because they don't really know. If that is the case, then is Jesus only responsible for half the healings, while nature is responsible for the other half? Here is the corollary to that proposition: Let's say cancer kills 50 out of 100 people. 25 of the deceased cancer victims believed strongly in Jesus, but the other 25 didn't think about Jesus too much, if at all. In fact, if Jesus saves, then why didn't Jesus save 15 of them, which were under the age of 2? You see, the problem with the Jesus theory is it causes believers to start to pick and choose, and make up their own increasingly complicated explanations as each scenario, if anything, shows a lack of divine causality, rather than proof of divine causality. We can extend the argument to tsunamis, tornadoes, and other natural disasters, where, if Jesus is in charge, he really shows a fickle inconsistency in who gets to live or die.

    2. Manuel Correia

      I agree. When it fits it is convenient, it fits well however, the other half can be even better human beings but jesus negletted them! Brain washed people by superstition is really a set back to human progress. However, the future killer of humans is Islam's religion. Hitler's attrocities will be a joke compared to the - likely 2 biilion slottered.

  35. Eric Howe

    @ Charles B,

    You and all the other godly crowd suffer from an extreme lack of imagination. You see the sun moving across the sky and you assume that someone must be moving it because that's the only way you've seen things move before; you see something complex and assume that someone must have built it as that's the only way you can imagine that complexity could arise. You need more imagination, more doubt, and less intellectual laziness.

    Life is a chemical process. If you put a bullet in someone's head, the process is interrupted, the chemistry changes, and life stops.

    1. Karen Rose

      Interesting. And what do you call yourself?

  36. Ken Bing

    Excellent site! I am loving it!! Will come back again

  37. Patrick

    @ Charles B,

    Are you serious? You know there is a difference between a simple life form and an advanced life forms like humans. If you like to talk about religion you're in the wrong forum.

    This is science here.

  38. Charles B.

    Artemis: You're sharp! I hadn't thought of it that way, espeically the aspect of "maintaining" of the code. I would disagree that it's improving (evolution). There's no proof for that. In fact, there is plenty of proof that our genetics are degenerating rapidly, not improving. The code is corrupting little by little, not building upon itself. It even works against logic that something so complex could build upon itself from just base elements like carbon, calcium, or even simple acids like amino acids. Nice thought.

  39. Artemis

    Great level of detail not to bore someone like me to death, as I hated studying organic molecules, polymers, etc. Extremely complex topic, however, enough coverage depth and breadth to interest and enlighten most audience.

    However, I do not think I heard the answer to most important question. If DNA stores the code to life, who writes and maintains the code? We know code was written, and it keeps improving (evolution)... Then, who wrote it in the beginning and what updates it to generate such variety and richness in nature, and above all, the 'human' miracle who can observe, analyze and synthesize all of this?

  40. Charles B.

    Overly simplistic. The whole of "life" is greater than the sum of its parts. Why would a bullet in the brain end "life" if all the "chemicals" are still there? "Life" is more than just the chemicals in the right orders. He concludes with "It's just chemistry." Not so.

    We cannot even stop living breathing things from eventually dying. Everything everywhere eventually dies. So, if that which is already fully functioning cannot be prevented from eventually dying, then "life" is more than the right combination of chemicals in a test tube or we would live forever. "Life" is the gift of God, pure and simple.

    The Bible says that man was created from the "dust of the Earth" and so it is not surprising that elements of such are found in mankind even today, but they shall never find the "spark" of life, as that was the breath of the Almighty God. Without that Impetus, that Genius, that element of the Divine, there can be no life; not now; not 14,000 million years ago.

  41. Rip

    'What we still don't know' shows that computer power one day will be powerful enough to emulate reality today. This proven, how do we know this isn't a computer simulation right now? Some aliens science project.

  42. vinod

    a short and sweet documentary about origin of life, though not with much technical details...