Video: Scientists are scouring the universe for evidence of extraterrestrial life, but have you ever wondered how life began on Earth? Let physicist David Kaplan explain in the latest instalment of Quanta‘s “In Theory” video series. Hint: it’s all because of increasing entropy.
As Natalie Wolchover wrote for Quanta last year, an MIT professor named Jeremy England has come up with an actual mathematical formula for how this might happen:
The formula, based on established physics, indicates that when a group of atoms is driven by an external source of energy (like the sun or chemical fuel) and surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or atmosphere), it will often gradually restructure itself in order to dissipate increasingly more energy. This could mean that under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life.