8 episodes

A series of live conversations between writer Carl Zimmer and eight leading thinkers on the question of what it means to be alive. What Is Life? was recorded in front of a live audience at Caveat in New York and is supported by a grant from Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative.

What Is Life‪?‬ Carl Zimmer

    • Science
    • 4.7 • 23 Ratings

A series of live conversations between writer Carl Zimmer and eight leading thinkers on the question of what it means to be alive. What Is Life? was recorded in front of a live audience at Caveat in New York and is supported by a grant from Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative.

    Kate Adamala: Can We Make Life?

    Kate Adamala: Can We Make Life?

    Kate Adamala is a chemist at the University of Minnesota. In her Protobiology Lab, she is trying to build a synthetic cell from scratch.
     Protobiology Lab
     Adamala’s TEDx talk, “Life But Not Alive”

    • 48 min
    Donato Giovannelli: Warm Ponds Or Hellish Vents–Where Did Life Begin?

    Donato Giovannelli: Warm Ponds Or Hellish Vents–Where Did Life Begin?

    Donato Giovannelli is an assistant professor at the University of Naples “Federico II.” He travels to acid lakes and other extreme environments that are the closest thing today to what Earth was like when life began.
    Giovannelli’s web site
    Giovannelli on Twitter

    • 51 min
    Steven Benner: How Weird Can Life Get?

    Steven Benner: How Weird Can Life Get?

    All the life we know is the same: carbon-based, with DNA for genes. (Okay, except for RNA viruses.) But Steven Benner says it doesn’t have to be that way. Benner is a Distinguished Fellow at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution.
    Benner at FFAME

    • 51 min
    Jeremy England: Why Does Life Exist?

    Jeremy England: Why Does Life Exist?

    Jeremy England is a physicist at MIT. He has developed an influential theory of life as a way for matter to dissipate energy.
    England’s MIT lab site
    An article about England in Quanta

    • 55 min
    Caleb Scharf: How Did Life Begin?

    Caleb Scharf: How Did Life Begin?

    We don’t know how life got its start. But as more evidence emerges, explains astrobiologist Caleb Scharf, only a few theories are emerging as leading contenders. Scharf is the director of the Columbia Astrobiology Center at Columbia University.
    calebscharf.com

    • 46 min
    Jim Cleaves: The Origin of Life, from Frankenstein to a Laboratory Spark

    Jim Cleaves: The Origin of Life, from Frankenstein to a Laboratory Spark

    H. James Cleaves is a professor at the Earth-Life Science Institute in Tokyo and co-author of A Brief History of Creation: Science and the Search for the Origin of Life.
    Cleaves at ELSI
    A Brief History of Creation

    • 45 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
23 Ratings

23 Ratings

Dakota Jane ,

Mind-blowingly Wonderful

Zimmerman talks to scientists researching the subject of what is life and how does it begin and gets them to talk about their work at an accessible level. Big questions, big fun!

DickZimmer ,

What is Life?

Very insightful interviews.

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