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published by the WGBH Educational Foundation
Where did the very first living thing on Earth come from? This 10-minute NOVA video (released in 2011) explores a landmark discovery made by chemist John Sutherland, who created the conditions in which building blocks of RNA assemble themselves naturally.

Editor's Note This cost-free video provides insight into the chemistry of life, which makes it appropriate for a physical science course. The presentation is engaging and clear enough for secondary students to understand.

See Related Materials for a link to an interactive version of the famous 1953 Miller-Urey experiment, in which biochemistry students combined methane, water vapor, hydrogen, and ammonia....then introduced an electric charge. The result: amino acids (the building blocks of protein) were created.

Please note that this resource requires Flash.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
General Physics
- Properties of Matter
Other Sciences
- Chemistry
- High School
- Middle School
- Informal Education
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Learners
- Educators
- General Publics
- application/flash
- text/html
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© 2011 WGBH Educational Foundation
RNA, RNA structure, amino acids, biochemistry, building blocks of life, chemistry of life, evolution, life on Earth, life origin, ribonucleic acid
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created August 24, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 24, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
February 12, 2011
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AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

5. The Living Environment

5A. Diversity of Life
  • 9-12: 5A/H3. Similar patterns of development and internal anatomy suggest relatedness among organisms.
  • 9-12: 5A/H4. Most complex molecules of living organisms are built up from smaller molecules. The various kinds of small molecules are much the same in all life forms, but the specific sequences of components that make up the very complex molecules are characteristic of a given species.
5F. Evolution of Life
  • 9-12: 5F/H8. Life on earth is thought to have begun as simple, one-celled organisms about four billion years ago. Once cells with nuclei developed about a billion years ago, increasingly complex multi-cellular organisms evolved.
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AIP Format
(WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, 2011), WWW Document, (
NOVA: Revealing the Origins of Life, (WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, 2011), <>.
APA Format
NOVA: Revealing the Origins of Life. (2011, February 12). Retrieved November 21, 2018, from WGBH Educational Foundation:
Chicago Format
WGBH Educational Foundation. NOVA: Revealing the Origins of Life. Boston: WGBH Educational Foundation, February 12, 2011. (accessed 21 November 2018).
MLA Format
NOVA: Revealing the Origins of Life. Boston: WGBH Educational Foundation, 2011. 12 Feb. 2011. 21 Nov. 2018 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {NOVA: Revealing the Origins of Life}, Publisher = {WGBH Educational Foundation}, Volume = {2018}, Number = {21 November 2018}, Month = {February 12, 2011}, Year = {2011} }
Refer Export Format

%T NOVA: Revealing the Origins of Life
%D February 12, 2011
%I WGBH Educational Foundation
%C Boston
%O application/flash

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D February 12, 2011
%T NOVA: Revealing the Origins of Life
%I WGBH Educational Foundation
%V 2018
%N 21 November 2018
%8 February 12, 2011
%9 application/flash

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NOVA: Revealing the Origins of Life:

Same topic as Miller-Urey Experiment

A simulation of the classic 1953 experiment that changed how scientists studied the origin of life.

relation by Caroline Hall

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