Life's Rocky Start


Calcite (Cumbria England), from the collections of the Mineralogical & Geological Museum at Harvard University. photo: Rob Tinworth 

NOVA Life’s Rocky Start aired on WSKG TV on January 13 at 9pm. Watch the full episode now:

Four and a half billion years ago, the young Earth was a place of meteorite impacts, volcanic eruptions, and lightning flashing through a thin atmosphere. Then, in a process that has puzzled scientists for decades, life emerged. How did it happen?

NOVA joins mineralogist Robert Hazen as he journeys around the globe to resolve this enduring mystery. He has advanced a startling and counterintuitive idea – that the rocks beneath our feet were not only essential to jump-starting life, but then, as microbes flourished and took over the biosphere, life helped give birth to hundreds of minerals we know and depend on today. This intriguing perspective of the co-evolution of Earth and life is reshaping the grand-narrative of our planet’s story.