Chicken or egg: Are we looking at life wrong?

HowTheLightGetsIn Festival

Chicken or egg: Are we looking at life wrong?
11th March 2021

It is the question that has rocked humanity for millennia, the conundrum that has confounded scientists, philosophers, politicians, artists and everyone in between: which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Aristotle postulated that both chicken and egg were essential properties of the universe, extending infinitely back in time. Plutarch argued the question pointed to the bigger question of whether the universe had a beginning. Stephen Hawking revolutionised the field – or at least he would have done if black holes hadn’t taken up an undue portion of his career.

And here we find ourselves, in need of help from the world’s greatest thinkers to settle this issue once and for all. You might imagine that evolution explains life. But it doesn’t. And scientists remain perplexed as to how and where life emerged. Are we simply the result of a fluke event, one chemical reaction billions of years ago? Are we right to turn to the biologists to tell us, or does the issue in fact lie deeper?
The Panel

Legendary American philosopher Daniel Dennett, astrobiologist and famed science communicator, Sara Walker, and evolutionary (and revolutionary) biochemist Professor Nick Lane tackle the most fundamental question of all. Hosted by Güneş Taylor.