Could cold, lifeless stone hold the key to every living thing on earth?
Geologist Robert Hazen travels the globe, from a market in Marrakech to the southern coast of Australia, investigating the evidence of life's origin and evolution and its relationship with rocks and minerals.
NOVA: Life's Rocky Origins presents the hypothesis that the appearance of life on earth was inextricably linked to the formation of minerals. The video presents many scenarios for the origin of life. It describes Stanley Miller's famous experiment featuring a recreation of Charles Darwin's "warm little pond" hypothesis of the origin of life. In Miller's experiment, amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, were manufactured in a crucible containing gases representing earth's early atmosphere along with simulated lightning. Robert Hazen modified Miller's experiment and included heat and pressure to mimic the formation of the molecules of life at the earth's undersea vent colonies. He found that minerals were a necessary ingredient in this process.
Hazen also introduces a color sequence for earth history:
-Black Earth is based upon the meteorites that coalesced to form the early earth
-Grey Earth describes the formation of earth's granite continents
-Blue Earth is based upon the first oceans
-Red Earth is named for the banded-iron deposits resulting from the introduction of oxygen into the earth's atmosphere
-White Earth a time when earth was frozen from pole to pole
-Green Earth, today's living planet where life colonized the land
NOVA: Life's Rocky Start is an introduction to earth history and the ways that life might have started on the early earth. It reinforces the study of earth materials by demonstrating life's reliance upon earth's rocks and minerals.
The PDF contains a two-sided video worksheet consisting of 48 multiple choice question, an answer key, an an MS Word download link. You will need to obtain a DVD of the video, or use the PBS Internet site or YouTube
Note: You may want to read Robert Hazen's book The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to a Living Planet.
(I listened to the audiobook, and it was terrific.)