April 26

Earth and Beyond

Saturday’s Big Idea

Knowledge Gaps

When Kas Thomas asks the question "Which came first, life or Earth?" in today's lesson, he is not asking a trick question. Well, it's sort of a trick question because we cannot answer it, and as Thomas points out, "there is not only no consensus view on the subject, there is not even any consensus on which of the many available candidate theories deserve to be candidate theories."

According to one potential candidate theory, for instance, life must have originated before Earth was formed, since it didn't have enough time to develop here.

This all speaks to the tendency we have to think science knows more than it knows. Not only do we have knowledge gaps here and there, Thomas points out, we have gaps when it comes to answering fundamental questions about how life arose. 

  1. 1 Which Came First, Life or Earth?
  2. 2 Which Came First, the Galaxy or t...
  3. 3 Evolution is Like a Self Organizi...
  4. 4 Richard Dawkins on Why Science is...
   
  1. Which Came First, Life or Earth?

    Which Came First, Life or Earth?

    The vastness of our scientific ignorance is especially evident when it comes to explaining how life arose on earth.

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  2. Which Came First, the Galaxy or the Black Hole?

    Which Came First, the Galaxy or the Black Hole?

    At the heart of every galaxy like our own Milky Way lies a supermassive black hole, but scientists are unsure which develops first.

    Read More…
  3. Evolution is Like a Self Organizing Flash Mob

    Evolution is Like a Self Organizing Flash Mob

    Bill Nye describes evolution through the analogy of a flash mob. Some designs work out, some go away.

    Read More…
  4. Richard Dawkins on Why Science is Art

    Richard Dawkins on Why Science is Art

    Richard Dawkins sees the career of a scientist as a colorful and incredibly creative enterprise—akin, in many ways, to the highest poetry and most imaginative art.

    Read More…