What is the Purpose of Life? (Big Picture Ep. 5/5)04:33

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Published on January 21, 2017

This video is about how life arose and what its main function or purpose in the universe seems to be. Thanks to for supporting this video, and to Sean Carroll for collaborating on it!

Playlist of the full video series:

Link to Patreon supporters here:

This video is about how life arose and what its main function or purpose in the universe seems to be. Throughout the universe there is a driving tendency for entropy to increase and free energy to be used up; however, sometimes there is some sort of barrier holding back further potential increase in entropy – these entropically favored but not directly possible reactions (like hydrogen nuclei fusing to become helium, or carbon dioxide reacting with hydrogen to form methane and water), *can* be achieved by larger systems, often complex or complicated, that allow multi-step reaction chains that ultimately lead to the entropically favored state. These systems, (stars, whose nuclei foster conditions amenable to fusion of hydrogen into helium, and life, which fosters conditions amenable to hydrogenating carbon dioxide) are naturally entropically favored, once they arise. And thus the purpose of both life, and stars, can be seen, in the context of the universe, as being a catalyst system that helps facilitate increases in entropy that are not otherwise possible.

Music for the series was especially composed by Nathaniel Schroeder,


How Life Arose (Hydrogenating CO2 quote):

Sean’s blog on this topic:

Michael Russell article:

The molecular formula for Fructose:

Adenosine Triphosphate (aka ATP):

Hydrogen Fusion Reaction Chain:
Richard Pogge (Ohio State University) on Stellar evolution:
Stellar evolution lecture notes:
Stellar evolution wikipedia:

Sean’s blog:

Sean Carroll: The Big Picture
(more great articles about entropy, etc on his blog

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Minute Physics provides an energetic and entertaining view of old and new problems in physics — all in a minute!

Created by Henry Reich



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