SftP Videos: Life

It’s still very hard to define life, but science has made great strides toward revealing many of its characteristics and processes. Here are some basics about the most complex phenomenon we know: life’s origin, characteristics, structure, and states of animacy.

"Shocking" News from Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents

In probably the most extreme environmment on Earth, organisms are thriving. Peter Girguis explains how.....

A Spotlight on the Impact of the Wildlife Trade

The persistence of the international wildlife trade is destructive for wildlife, ecosystems, environment, and human health. Maria Ivanova and Candace Famiglietti

Advanced Research on the Origin of Life

Two young scientists at the famous Jack Szostak Lab explain research issues, Matthew Powner and Utay Budin

All about Jellyfish

Get the real facts about those about lion's mane jellyfish near Massachusetts beaches, but get the real science about jellyfish in general: their amazing biology and their role in marine ecosystems. Laurence Madin

Ancient Environmental Shifts and Evolution

A warming climate led to the emergence of grasslands, which led to major evolutionary changes. Aly Baumgartner

Antarctic Fishes: Models for Climate Change and Human Disease

How the unique "antifreeze" blood and skeletal mutations of the Antarctic Icefishes provide insights into both climate change adaptations and human disease. H. William Detrich, III

Art and Nature: A Special Exhibit

Boston-area artists Susan Heideman and Michelle Lougee discuss their fascinating exhibit, "The Life of Forms."

Cell Architecture: Self-Organization and Scaling

A cell's size and the proportions of its components are strictly determined, but where do the rules come from? Scientists are still trying to figure that out. Jané Kondev

Conservation Lessons from Ice-Age Extinctions

Was there a human factor in the Ice Age extinctions of large mammals? ............ Sharon Levy

Earth Life and Weird Life

The compelling search for entirely new forms of life elsewhere in our solar system and the universe. David Toomey

Enigmas of Life: Getting It Started and Becoming Complex

An investigation of the two major questions about the origin of life, and their relevance in search for life elsewhere in the universe. Zachary Adam

Evolution and Environmental Toxins

A toxicologist explains why some organisms thrive in an environment that endangers most species. Emily Monosson

Exploring the Dark Matter of the Microbial World

All life depends on a microbial foundation. So does development of new antibiotics. But 99 percent of microbes are unknown. Slava Epstein

How DNA is Folded in Cells and Why it Matters

How DNA is folded in the cell may shed light on cancer and other diseases. Jané Kondev

How Ecosystems Work: from the Smallest to the Largest Scales

Ecological systems are the archetypal complex systems. And regardless of scale and diversity --from microbial systems to rain forests -- they share common patterns and dynamics. James O'Dwyer

How the Brain Produces Language --and What Can Go Wrong

The science of neural networks reveals the awesome complexity of normal speech production and also brings help for language disorders. Frank Guenther

Human Language, Animal Communication

The evolution of the human language apparatus, comparison of human language and animal communication, and explanation of the Neanderthal language controversy. Philip Lieberman

Infant Fossil Teeth: Clues to Ancient Human Development

Ancient infant teeth reveal the importance of weaning patterns in human evolution. Tanya Smith

Infinitely Small to Infinitely Great: The Search for Microbial Life on Other Worlds

A collaboration of ocean and space scientists that will advance our understanding of exo-worlds, such as Enceladus and Europa. Peter Girguis

Language Acquisition: How Many Languages Can You Learn?

The acquisition of even one language is very complicated. But there are some --called hyperpolyglotals-- who learn dozens of languages. How does the brain do this? Evelina Fedorenko

Leaving It Up to Chance: How Cells Make Decisions

Cells make decisions that turn out to be random. Jané Kondev explains the implications of that surprising discovery.

Mass Extinctions

What caused Earth's five mass extinctions --and most important--are we headed for a sixth? Andrew Knoll

Microbe Evolution

How microbes and their communities evolve and what the process means for us. Christopher Marx

Mushrooms and Other Fungi: Their Role in Nature

A tour of the fascinating world of mushrooms. This is way beyond the supermarket. David Hibbett

Nectar, Pollen and the Health of Bees

Nectar and pollen are sources of food for bees, but some of these sources may also help to reduce certain pathogens. Lynn Adler

Our Robots, Ourselves

The author of "Our Robots, Ourselves" discusses the limits of robot autonomy. David Mindell

Reconstructing Evolution: A Molecular Time Machine

Tracing ancient genetic changes through extinctions and speciation events to reconstruct our DNA history. Betul Kacar

Scale-Free Complex Networks: Albert-László Barabási, Ph.D.

a visit to the Barabási Lab at Northeastern University to learn how scale-free complex networks affect scientific perspectives

Searching for Bio-Molecules

At the Summons Lab at MIT, scientists probe soil and rock samples from both ancient Earth and --using remote instruments-- Mars for bio-molecules. Roger Summons

Self-Defense Mechanisms of the Cell

The cell's self-defense repair kit against hereditary, environmental, and other threats. Sushil Alimchandani

Sustaining Life: Biodiversity and Human Health

Aaron Bernstein, M.D, MPH and author explains how the unprecedented loss of biodiversity impacts human health.

The Biological Mind

The "mind" is not an isolated entity; it is connected to a physical-social environment. Alan Jasanoff

The Co-Evolution of Organisms and Their Environments

Reconstructing the relationship between biological evolution and geology, climate, environment. Andrew Knoll

The Evolution of Photosynthesis

How photosynthesis --and life-- emerged in Earth's ancient chemical environment. Tanja Bosak and Alexander Petroff

The Human Genome Project

The challenge for genomic studies today is how to manage the vast collection of data. John Quackenbush

The Jurassic Genome

Genetic material in ancient fossils yields an amazing profile of extinct organisms. Chris Organ

The Potential Uses of Deep-Sea Microbes

A leader in the study of exotic microbes at hydrothermal vents explains the significance and the potential of these life forms. Peter Girguis

Understanding How Life Began

Molecules in meteorites met with an optimal chemical environment on Earth. Alonso Ricardo

Using Genetics to Trace Human History

An explanation of how modern genetics analysis confirms ancient human migrations, such as the Indo-Europeans. Nick Patterson

What Happened to the Honeybees?

The decimation of honeybee colonies is also a public health warning about pesticides. Chensheng (Alex) Lu