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One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue

   1980    Science
Sagan discusses the story of the Heike crab and artificial selection of crabs resembling samurai warriors, as an opening into a larger discussion of evolution through natural selection (and the pitfalls of intelligent design). Among the topics are the development of life on the Cosmic Calendar and the Cambrian explosion; the function of DNA in growth; genetic replication, repairs, and mutation; the common biochemistry of terrestrial organisms; the creation of the molecules of life in the Miller-Urey experiment; and speculation on alien life (such as life in Jupiter's clouds). In the Cosmos Update ten years later, Sagan remarks on RNA also controlling chemical reactions and reproducing itself and the different roles of comets (potentially carrying organic molecules or causing the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event).
Series: Cosmos

Through the Wormhole Season 6: Are We Here for a Reason

   2015    Science
Evolution tells us that all life exists for only one purpose: to reproduce. But is that all there is? How could such a simple imperative lead us to create great art and civilizations? A new theory suggests that instead of passing on genes, our ultimate purpose is to process and pass on information. We are the universe figuring itself out. Scientists dig deep into DNA, chemistry, technology and engineering to find the meaning of life. One thing is certain: living is easier if you find a reason for living.
Series: Through the Wormhole Season 6

Is Poverty Genetic

   2014    Culture
Are the wealthy just born in the right place at the right time? Are the poor victims of a system designed to keep them down? Or do physics and biology determine who is rich and who is poor? Throughout history, distribution of wealth is governed by hidden forces: DNA, environmental stress, patterns of human migration and even the laws of thermodynamics! Nature seems to demand winners and losers in life. But does this mean greed is king, and the rich can take what they want? Or is cooperation – between microorganisms, monkeys, and humans – more essential to survival of a species?
Series: Through the Wormhole Season 5

Will We Become God

   2014    Technology
Humanity’s potential seems limitless. But could we become as powerful as God? Scientific breakthroughs grant our species seemingly divine abilities. Biologists tinkering with DNA are figuring out ways to grow new life forms, while neuroscientists try to create artificial consciousness. Statisticians around the world are using big data to predict the future and computer scientists have discovered a "God algorithm" that could solve any global problem in an instant. But to truly become God, we not only have to be all knowing, but all being. Quantum physicists are figuring out how to teleport matter at the speed of light!
Series: Through the Wormhole Season 5

Are Aliens Inside Us

   2015    Culture
Odds are excellent that extraterrestrial life exists. So why haven’t we found aliens out in the galaxy? Are we looking in the wrong places? New research shows we should look closer to home, even inside our bodies. It turns out that a lot of our DNA is from a mysterious, nonhuman source. Theoretically, alien microbial life can make the journey to Earth from distant worlds, and scientists are finding some unearthly microbes in our upper atmosphere. Could it be from outer space? Could we be part alien? It’s even possible alien life is already here as digital life forms, hiding inside our technology.
Series: Through the Wormhole Season 6
Neanderthal
Neanderthal

      History
The Nazis, A Warning From History
The Nazis, A Warning From History

   1997    History
Conquistadors
Conquistadors

   2002    History
Power of Art
Power of Art

   2006    Art
The Sky at Night
The Sky at Night

   2018    Science
Catalyst
Catalyst

   2017    Science
Living Universe
Living Universe

   2018    Technology