The Spark of Life: Tinkering with the Genetic Toolbox (DVD)
Is it difficult to tell the difference between living things and things that have no life? What makes the difference? Why are some things alive and others not? This is the exploration of the differences between living and non-living things in an attempt to discover and define the "spark of life."
Scientists in this BBC report look at the fossil record of simple single-cell organisms that are over one billion years old. This fossil record predates all mammalian life and is before the age of the dinosaurs. It is the earliest known record of primordial life so far found on planet Earth. Genetic scientists believe it is possible to recreate the single bacterium from which all life emerged based on the modern knowledge of the fossil record.
Overcoming the technical issues is difficult, yet the ethical issues present more of a challenge. If it is possible to re-create ancient life in its simplest form, is this not like a new Genesis, where humankind is now playing as God? Great scientific discoveries come from not knowing the results of any experimentation before it starts. If we knew all the answers already, there would be no need to investigate.
The explorations covered in this DVD find evidence of bacteria that are like living machines and even bacteria that oddly produces diesel oil. We see the chemical conditions necessary to create the building blocks of life and how early Earth was a fantastic natural laboratory creating amino acids which evolved into DNA that formed the basis of all life on this planet.
The Spark of Life: Tinkering with the Genetic Toolbox