Life: Destiny or Chance?

2014, Science  -  25 min Leave a Comment
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Life: Destiny or Chance? attempts to answer the fundamental question of whether life is the result of articulate cosmic design, or simply a lucky (for us, anyhow) occurrence predicated solely on chance. Basically, are we a mistake?

Looking at it from a very scientific and objective perspective, the film starts by looking at the processes that create and sustain life, and whether they are actually integral to the universe on a grand scale - or just a little blip on the radar for a relatively unrelated flowchart.

The narrator goes on to explain that stellar explosions (supernovas and the like) that spew forth dust are the catalysts for all forms of matter. A computer-simulated rendering of the evolution of the cosmos is used to demonstrate exactly how the universe took shape from time zero up until present day, and enables the commentary to break down a number of phenomena native to astrophysics - dark matter, black holes, solar winds, etc.

A star cluster called the Trapezium pumps out a wind of ultraviolet radiation that clears out an area where young stars can be born to generate solar nebulae where the early building blocks of life can get a foothold. Dust particles begin to "stick together" by way of gravity, and slowly form masses that eventually become substantial enough to constitute what we know as planets.

Interplanetary dust particles that contain carbon and hydrogen particles, when exposed to oxygen in our atmosphere, create H2O (water) particles that are the building blocks of life. Earth's abundance of water, and the ensuing life that emerged from its presence, is due in large part to this process. Each of the planets in our solar system are then chronicled, with explanations of how water prevails on its surface and the moons that orbit them.

The figure thrown out in the film's closing is that our universe has had over forty billion individual favorable opportunities to spawn life in its history, and Earth is the only data point we have where those efforts resulted in the life that we enjoy - doesn't seem all that favorable that we are the universe's primary objective.