Sean Carroll: Understanding the Origin of Life is Within the Reach of Science | AI Podcast Clips

Sean Carroll: Understanding the Origin of Life is Within the Reach of Science | AI Podcast Clips


– What kind of questions can
science not currently answer, but might soon? When you think about the
problems and the mysteries before us that may be
within reach of science? – I think an obvious one
is the origin of life. We don’t know how that happened. There’s a difficulty in knowing
how it happen historically, actually literally on
Earth, but starting life from non-life is something I kinda think we’re close to, right? We’re really–
– You really think so? – I do, I do.
– How difficult is it to start life? – Well, I’ve talked to people,
including on the podcast, about this, life requires three things, life as we know it. So there’s a difference between life, which who knows what it is, and life as we know it,
which we can talk about with some intelligence. So life as we know it
requires compartmentalization, you need a little
membrane around your cell, metabolism, you take in food and eat it, and let that make you do things, and then replication. Okay, so you need to have some information about who you are that you pass
down to future generations. In the lab, compartmentalization
seems pretty easy, not hard to make lipid bilayers that come into little cellular walls pretty easily. Metabolism and replication are hard, but replication we’re close to. People have made RNA-like
molecules in the lab that, I think the state of the
art is they’re not able to make one molecule
that reproduces itself, but they’re able to make two molecules that reproduce each other. – (laughs) Yeah.
– So that’s okay. That’s pretty close.
– Yep. – Metabolism is harder, believe it or not, even though it’s sort of
the most obvious thing, but you want some sort
of controlled metabolism. And the actual cellular
machinery in our bodies is quite complicated, it’s hard to see it just
popping into existence all by itself, it probably took a while, but we’re making progress. In fact, I don’t think we’re spending nearly enough money on it. If I were the NSF, I would
flood this area with money, ’cause it would change
our view of the world if we could actually make life in the lab and understand how it was
made originally here on Earth.

18 thoughts on “Sean Carroll: Understanding the Origin of Life is Within the Reach of Science | AI Podcast Clips

  1. Watch the full episode with Sean Carroll here: http://bit.ly/315QhfC If you enjoy it, consider subscribing, sharing, and commenting.

  2. Sean Carroll is a liberal progressive atheist.
    Everything that comes out of his mouth is filtered by his personal bias and cannot be trusted.

  3. Let's aim for a virus instead of a cell. Viruses don't have a metabolism. (Whether viruses are therefore 'alife' entities is an unimportant detail for biologists to debate on)

  4. This kind of delusion is widespread in science fields( physics, bio, chemistry…). Just because they grasp the whole picture, they assume solving the godly complex engineering problems are always feasible. Hence our view of the world is comprehensive in respect to understanding the elementary mechanisms. The truth is, we don't know anything when it comes to life, evolution and bio systems.

  5. This level of discussion has no content. Our basic understanding of physical reality is that structure becomes more disordered with time. Life manages to create a different reality where chemical structures become more ordered in time and space through a random trial and error process that selects more successful results. Life is able to achieve this process by coupling chemical reactions that cost energy and reduce structure with other chemical reactions that produce the active chemical agents and structural components that reproductive organisms depend on. But, for life's processes to work some complex initial structure had to be created that was capable of sustaining itself. Modern biology has produced some significant clues about some features of this process. It seems clear that the genetic code and the roles of DNA, RNA, and protein are the outcome of a process where RNA was the central active agent. Only two per cent of human DNA codes for proteins. The rest of the human DNA serves as a complex scaffold for regulatory activity that is largely about controlling RNA transcription. RNA molecules have proven to have a variety of functions beyond being messengers for protein synthesis. Those functions include catalysis of some chemical reactions and a variety of regulatory roles. But, biological science is much better at generating data than understanding what it means. It is still a long way from understanding the details of how modern human life works. It is doubtful that anything short of generating life in a test tube would support a claim to understand how the creation of life happened. Even that result would leave large questions about the degree of similarity between the test tube experiments and the actual generation of life. Probably the biggest question is whether the appearance of life on Earth was an high probability event that was destined to happen or whether it was some kind of miracle. If it was destiny, life should be pervasive across the universe. The other question is whether it was destiny for life to achieve the human competence with technology. If that competence is destiny and technologically competent life is pervasive, it should produce some kind of signal that we could recognize. Of course there is always the possibility that technologically capable life is unstable because that life tends to use its technology in ways that produce self destruction.

  6. You can tell he (or they) already know the answer by the way he is saying it. They do not want to tell us, that's the true.

  7. Lex, YouTube sent notice by e-mail they are killing commentary on Sept 18th. Color me gone if that happens. See you on campus.

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