‘Hellish’ Conditions Gave Spark to Life on Earth

11:35 minutes

The early Earth was no place for life as we know it: Belching volcanoes, meteor strikes, hydrogen cyanide, and a healthy bombardment of ultraviolet rays. But a study in Nature Chemistry suggests those ‘hellish’ conditions—it’s not called the Hadean period for nothing—may have been the very place where the stuff of life was forged from chemistry for the very first time. Study author John Sutherland discusses how the machinery for life came about.

Plus Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, comments on the genetic mutation rate of Ebola, and how the current strain is evolving at a similar rate to past outbreaks—not faster, as was previously believed.

And Arielle Duhaime-Ross, a science reporter at The Verge, joins Ira to run through a few of the week’s science stories—including a spiky, ‘punk rocker’ frog.

Segment Guests

John Sutherland

John Sutherland is group leader of the Medical Research Council at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Anthony Fauci

Dr. Anthony Fauci is the former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Arielle Duhaime-Ross

Arielle Duhaime-Ross is freelance science journalist, artist, podcast, and TV host based in Portland, OR.

Meet the Producer

About Christopher Intagliata

Christopher Intagliata was Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.