Wonders Of Life
Confirmed for BBC Two on 27 January at 9.00pm to 10.00pm
Sunday 27 January
Starting off in the fiery, volcanic landscapes of South East Asia, Brian confronts science and humanity’s most enduring questions: What is life? And how did it begin?
On the edge of Taal Volcano lake, Brian demonstrates how the first spark of life may have arisen. Here, heat energy from the inner Earth forces its way to the surface and changes its chemistry, just as it did in our planet's infancy. It is now believed that these chemical changes set up a source of energy from which life first emerged.
Experiencing how life has flourished since, Brian swims with millions of Golden Jellyfish. Embedded in their structures are algae that draw energy from the sun and nourish the jellyfish. As a physicist, Brian is only too aware that energy can neither be created or destroyed, so living things don’t 'use' the energy that passes through them.
In the Borneo rainforest, Brian encounters one of our closest cousins, the orang-utan, which shares 97 per cent of our DNA. The common heritage reveals that DNA is not only a record of the evolution of life on Earth - it connects us to everything alive today and everything that has ever lived. It is the means by which life has endured.
Brian concludes that, far from demanding a mystical explanation, the emergence of life might be an inevitable consequence of the physical laws that govern our universe.
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