Segments in this Video

Introduction: Life's Rocky Start (04:11)


Minerals are the building blocks of modern civilization, but they may also be the building blocks of life. This film will investigate the origin and evolution of life, and the role of rocks in the process.

Black Earth (07:13)

The vast history of the planet can be divided into six stages with different "colored earths." In Morocco, Hazen and meteorite expert Adam Aronson seek meteorite shards to investigate the composition of Earth's first stage. When the young Earth first formed and cooled, it was covered in basalt.

Gray and Blue Earth (07:12)

In the intense heat and pressure of the planet's creation, new minerals began to form, giving rise to "gray Earth." Hazen explains the how and when this stage transitioned into "blue Earth." He joins geologists Martin Van Kranendonk and John Valley in Australia to search for evidence of Earth's early geology.

How Did Life Begin? (08:53)

Jeffrey Bada creates a modern day test of Stanley Miller's early Earth experiment. Shortly after Miller's experiment, hydrothermal vents that support life on the ocean floor were discovered. Hazen attempts an experiment that mimics the conditions of the vents.

Power of Mud (07:58)

Peter Coveney explains experiments with mud to understand how minerals may have contributed to the origin of life. Mud contains layers of clay that may have been vital for early life molecules. Back in Australia, Kranendonk investigates an unusual rock formation.

Earth's First Life (04:02)

Geologist Ruth Blake searches for evidence of the earliest life on Earth. Looking for chemical signatures allows her to determine whether microbes lived on ancient rocks. She believes she discovered a faint signal of life from 3.8 billion years ago.

Red Earth (03:38)

Hazen travels to Hamersley Basin. The iron-red rocks of the basin hold evidence of the first photosynthesizing microbes, and the creation of an oxygen atmosphere.

White Earth (05:10)

Earth's early continental movements caused massive climate changes that nearly wiped out all life. These freezing and heating cycles would have profound consequences on the development of life. Hazen and Aronson return to Morocco, continuing the search for the significance of rocks in the history of life.

Green Earth (03:51)

From humans to trilobites, the evolution of life has been closely tied to minerals. Hazen reviews the inextricable relationship between life and rocks from their beginnings.

Credits: Life's Rocky Start (01:06)

Credits: Life's Rocky Start

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Life's Rocky Start

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Four and a half billion years ago, how did life emerge on Earth? Robert Hazen advances a startling idea—that the rocks on Earth 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 rely upon today. NOVA reveals how the story of life on Earth is fundamentally interwoven with the epic, unfolding story of Earth itself.

Length: 54 minutes

Item#: BVL151282

Copyright date: ©2016

Closed Captioned

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