"Tivo-ifies the web" Paul Kedrosky

John Maynard Smith – Royal Institution Discourse on “The Origin of Life”.

Here, the late, great, Maynard Smith talks about what it means to say something is living. Like many virtuosos, he makes something difficult seem simple, with utterly clear explanations – the lecture is a small masterpiece.

He considers that what some biologists (such as Stuart Kauffman) define as life i.e. self reproducing things that metabolize, does not differentiate between life and something like a flame and that we must always add heredity (of infinite possible variety) to account for what we consider to be truly alive.

This leads to life as seen from an information perspective i.e how we transmit information between generations, and he outlines 9 milestones in the evolution of life from this vantage point, from replicating molecules to electronic information communication.

science, talks

2 comments on “John Maynard Smith – Royal Institution Discourse on “The Origin of Life”.

  1. Ian Sealy says:


    It’s definitely worth watching twice, but I just thought I’d point out that this was posted last year:



  2. admin says:

    Ha – thanks Ian, I must be becoming senile.

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