Is it possible to create life with the right combination of organic molecules – the proteins and nucleic acids that are known as the “building blocks of life”? We are taught that life began in a primitive “soup” of gases and water, so theoretically it should be possible to recreate the origins of life with the same ingredients under laboratory conditions. Join our humorous fact finding mission as we attempt to create life in the lab.

Mythbusted: Creating Life In The Lab

Video Transcript

Jagad Guru:  Today we’re going to be doing an experiment which could revolutionize the world.  Now let me give you a little background to the experiment that we’re going to be doing today.  We’ve not done it before because we wanted you to take part in the experiment itself because it’s going to be so revolutionary, we want you to be able to be part of it.  It’s an unbelievable thing.  We don’t know… I don’t know why nobody has done this before.  Let me give you a little background to this, this is really almost unreal.

The other day, actually it was a couple of weeks ago, I saw a TV show ‘Cosmos’ with Carl Sagan.  And in it, he really made me think; he intrigued me with this statement he made.  Let me read you what he said.  He said, “Organic molecules – the building blocks of life – are everywhere and they’re easily made.”

I really was intrigued by that, you know.  He said, ‘“Organic molecules – the building blocks of life – are everywhere and they’re easily made.”  I thought, “Wow,” you know.  You know, I was reading this text… this science textbook and I read basically the same thing, you know.  Another guy was saying basically the same thing.  Then the week after that I saw “Cosmos” again.  And this is what Sagan said again.  He not only said it… he not only said this but he … it wasn’t just him saying it, they actually had it on the screen them doing this experiment and not only seeing it but there was music – great music.  Let me … (laughter)  You have to imagine the music, okay?  If you didn’t see it, you have to imagine the music.  You just try to imagine the music and see… picture this:  they’ve got these test tubes and they’ve got sparks, they’ve got, you know, a scientist in a white coat and everything, okay?  (laughter)  Okay?  Really heavy stuff, okay?  And the music was, you know, like 200-piece orchestra-type stuff.  (laughter)  Really heavy stuff and this is what he was saying.  Listen. “How did the molecules of life arise?  In a laboratory in Cornell University, we mix together gases and waters of the primitive Earth, supply some energy, and see if we can make the stuff of life.”

Then he continued.  He says, “After only a few hours, the interior of the reacting vessel becomes streaked with a strange brown pigment – a rich collection of complex organic molecules including the building blocks of the proteins and the nucleic acids.  Under the right conditions, these building blocks assemble themselves into little molecules resembling little proteins and little nucleic acids.”

Then he concluded, you see, while this was going on, they were doing it and I could see the ‘stuff of life’, this black stuff of life (Laughter), you know, gradually covering the walls of this test tube vessel.  And Sagan concluded, “Look how …” he was pointing to his left… there was this thing there and it had black ‘stuff of life’ all in it, you know? (Laughter)  Like … it looked like molasses or something, you know, like that?  And he said, “Look how easy it is to make great globs of this stuff, the molecules of life fill the Cosmos.”

Well, that totally blew my mind.  I said, “God!  Does he know what he is saying?  Does he appreciate the importance of this?”  I said to myself, you know, I said, “Building blocks… those are building blocks of life!  Those are building blocks of LIFE!” Now I know that… like if I want to build a house, and there’s building blocks, I know that I can take the building blocks and build a house, right?

Audience:  Right.

Jagad Guru:  I can take the building blocks and build them, and build them, and build them and build a house.  So I said, “Why have they not taken these building blocks of life and made it so that no one dies?”  I couldn’t believe that they hadn’t thought of this.  Why don’t we build life and then we can take that life that we built… we can take that life that we built and we can inject it or somehow get it into people that we don’t want to die.  I mean, dying!  People are dying all the time, crying, “My grandmother died, why didn’t we take this ‘stuff of life’ and inject it into her?” Nobody thought about doing this before but we thought about doing it and we’re going to do it here today.  (Laughter)  I don’t know why you’re laughing.  You think it’s funny.  But I don’t think it’s funny because people are dying every day.  People are dying.  Aren’t they dying?

Audience:  Yeah, yes.

Jagad Guru:  Why are you laughing?  People are dying all the time.

Now, basically, what we have to do is we have to make sure we have the right ingredients, okay.  So we have to have a checklist.  Checklist.  Okay, here we have… what we’re going to do is, we are going to make the ‘building blocks of life’ … actually, take the building blocks of life because as you can see here we went… because I wanted to build some of the building blocks of life, I had to go to the local organic molecule-making place, and that’s of course in the university.   So I went to the university, got an organic molecule maker machine (Laughter) and that’s this thing here, okay.  So let’s get that over here… well no, no leave it there.  We’re not using it.  We already did that, you see.  We’ve got the ‘stuff of life’ – the organic molecules… we … from our experiment here in this flask.

So what we are going to do is we are going to make the ‘stuff of life’.  We’ve actually made the ‘stuff of life’ and what we’re going to do is we’re going to inject these building blocks of life, this ‘stuff of life’ into first, a brick.  That’s here.  That’s exhibit A.  (Laughter)  Can you get this on your camera?  Because I want to see what it does when it gets alive, okay, I want to see that on videotape.

So first we have a brick.  It is not living.  There is no life in it whatsoever.  We promise you.  We give you our word.  We’ve done experiments with it, there’s absolutely no life in this brick at this moment.  (Laughter)  We’re going to… and this other thing here is a fish, a dead fish.  There’s no life in that fish.  There used to be life in that fish; now there’s no life in that fish.  We tried putting it in the water earlier and it doesn’t swim. (Laughter)  Okay?  There’s no life in that fish.

So what we are going to do is we’re going to take this ‘stuff of life,’ but first we have to make sure we have everything.  We’re going to inject it with our injection machine… and we’re going to inject it.  So first, I’ll read out the list and here you hold the injector machine.  I’ll read out the list, okay?  And you tell me if we have it.

The ‘molecules of life’…

Audience Member:  Check.

Jagad Guru:  We have them?

Audience Member:  Right.

Jagad Guru:  Okay, they’re here right?  Okay, DNA, the ‘master molecule of life’…

Audience Member:  Check.

Jagad Guru:  The organic molecules, the ‘stuff of life’…

Audience Member:  Check.

Jagad Guru:  The ‘stuff of life’… we have the ‘stuff of life’…

Audience Member:  Check.

Jagad Guru:  … the stuff of life here… and the ‘building blocks of life’…

Audience Member:  Check.

Jagad Guru:  Oh those … Oh (laughter) This is unbelievable.  You are going to be the first … you will be the first… with us.  We haven’t seen it!  We’re going to see it together.

Okay, do you want to do this?  God, this fish stinks.  (laughter)  Okay, but it will not stink for long because we’re going to bring it to life!  (laughter)  We’re going to bring that fish to life!  You think the Evangelists got something going, huh?  (laughter)  Can they bring a fish back to life?

Okay, so what we’re going to do, we’re going to inject this brick and this fish, we’re going to inject them with the ‘stuff of life’, the ‘master molecule of life’, the ‘building blocks of life.’  Huh?  Okay, I’m afraid that… protein is very important.  “Protein is the building blocks of life,” that’s what they say.  That’s what they told me.  That’s what I heard, okay?  They promised me that proteins are the building blocks of life.  So I think, I’m afraid we don’t … I know we have some proteins … almost protein.  But I think we should just make sure…  (laughter) and add a little bit of milk, because we know that milk is very high in protein. (laughter)

So, we’ll take… we’ll take this… the ‘stuff of life here.’  I’m not really used to doing this … we’ll take this ‘stuff of life’ … I’m not sure how much we need … how much life do we need to bring the brick to life.  Okay, I think that’s enough.

This is going to revolutionize the world.  It’s unbelievable.  This is unbelievable.  As you can see…  can you get this?  Can you get this needle here?  Can you get this close up here?  I want to make sure the whole thing gets some life…  Oh, look!  It’s eating it, yeah.  It looks like it’s swallowing it.    Great!  It burped.  Okay, well actually it’s not quite alive yet.  So, I think probably the best place for this guy is right here … (laughter)  Okay, that should… that should… wait here for a moment.  What’s the brick supposed to do if it gets alive?  (laughter)  I want to see if it walks or anything.  Can you get… I want to make sure… Can we get this brick over here with that cut away camera?  I want to make sure… I want to see if it …   Hey!  Hey!  (laughter)  Okay, the brick’s not looking too good.  (laughter)  We’ll try the fish.  It’s probably… We’ll try the fish.  Get the fish in the water?’  We’re going to see if… We’re going to see the fish come to life, just one.  We’re going to see the fish… let’s get the cutaway camera here; make sure the cutaway camera gets it swimming here.  Okay, let’s see it swim in here.  (laughter)  Turn it around so the camera can see him swimming.  Can you get that?  You got that?  He’s upside down (laughter)  I’m not sure … open that thing up.    I just … I don’t know what’s happening … it’s just … it…   I can’t … I don’t know … it isn’t working.  I don’t … it’s probably because I’m a layman.  I’m not … I’m just a layman.  I probably did something wrong.  I probably put too much milk in or I probably … or we probably didn’t have enough DNA, the master molecule of life, DNA with it.  But it had quite a bit of DNA, didn’t it?  There’s a lot of DNA.  Actually, from what I heard fish is already high in protein.  (laughter)

Let me ask those of you out there who know what I did wrong … those scientists who know how it should…  Those of you who know more about building the building blocks of life, those of you who know more about this, you please consider that everyday people are dying and people are crying over their loved ones because they’re dying and they don’t want them to die!  And my grandmother, and this person, that person is getting old and we don’t want them to die!  Before they die, let’s do this, make this experiment work.  If you can create the building blocks of life, then damn it! you owe it to the people to build life, and give it to us! But you have to learn to build life not just instruments of death.  Here’s where you can put your energy – building life so that you can keep people from dying.

Okay, (laughter) excuse the sarcasm.  But it is absurd is it not?  Isn’t it absurd for somebody to say, “Here are the ‘building blocks of life’?  Here is the ‘stuff of life’.  Here are the ‘molecules of life’.  Here is the ‘master molecule of life’.”  I mean if you tell me that this is the building blocks of life, I know I’m just a layman and I’m dumb, but if you tell me that these are the building blocks of life, you know, I conclude that I can build life with it.  Right?

Audience:  Right, yeah.

Jagad Guru:  And if you tell me … that’s what they’re saying, “The proteins are the building blocks of life.”  And if you tell me that these are the ‘molecules of life’, then you’re telling me that this is what life is made out of, these molecules.  Just like the molecules of water are H2O or whatever, right?  These are the ‘molecules of life.’  If you tell me that this is the ‘stuff of life’!  The ‘stuff of life’!  If that’s the ‘stuff of life,’ why can’t I make life out of it?  Or why isn’t it life?  If you tell me that these are the building blocks of life, and you can’t build life with it, then obviously you’re telling me a lie, unless you mean something else by ‘building blocks’.  Do you understand this?

Audience:  Yeah, yes.

Jagad Guru:  They’re telling us that, “This is the building blocks of life.”  But then we try to build life with it and it doesn’t work.  If you tell me that this is a building block for a house, a bunch of these act as building blocks for houses, then I figure I can take a bunch of those and build a house.

If you tell me that this DNA molecule is the ‘master molecule of life’, then I figure that’s the key one, right?  That’s the king central essence thing, man!  I mean, that’s the center core of life itself, right?  That’s the key molecule.  I’ve now got the key molecule of life.  I’ve got the central core.  It!  I’ve got it!  But I can’t create life with it and I don’t have life.  So I’ve got the ‘master molecule of life’, the ‘molecules of life’, the ‘stuff of life’, the ‘building blocks of life’.  So where is life, if what they’re saying is true?  It’s nonsense.

The fact is these people begin their experiments trying to create life, they try to create life in their test tubes.  They start with chemicals and they end up with chemicals – lifeless chemicals.  That’s all.  They start with lifeless chemicals and they end with lifeless chemicals.

They have been trying … they’ve been teaching us, telling us in schools, everywhere, on television, they tell us that, “At some time in the past, long, long ago, there was a ‘sea of lifeless molecules’.  And this sea of molecules – lifeless molecules – combined to form a cell or a cell-like thing and because of this combination of chemicals, life arose.”  Right?  So they say that in the past, accidentally these chemicals came together, these ‘molecules of life’ that we have here today, came together accidentally and life was created.  Right?  Then how come they cannot consciously take those very same chemicals, put them together – not accidentally – put them together and have life arise?

What is so special about accidents?  Why should something happen long ago, I mean these very same chemicals came together long ago accidentally and created life.  But if you bring these very same chemicals here, very same chemicals together now, it doesn’t create life.  The only difference is, previously, long ago, the chemicals came together accidentally.  So what’s so special about it?  Is it some mystical thing about things coming together by accident?  I mean, if we all turned our heads, closed our eyes and these chemicals came together accidentally, (laughter) would life arise because they came together accidentally?  What’s so damn special about accidents?

Now, how can they conclude that life could have arisen long ago from this combination of chemicals and yet we take the same combination of chemicals today and we don’t create life from them?  How can they come to that conclusion?  It’s absolute nonsense.  And they have the audacity to actually call these chemicals ‘the building blocks of life’, ‘the molecules of life’ and so on.

Any questions?

Audience Member:  Most arguments as to whether or not life did arise in the past are based on what I think is called the probability factor.  In other words, it’s highly probable that it did happen in the past or it’s highly improbable that it happened in the past.  What it seems like you’re saying is that it’s not even possible that it could have happened in the past.

Jagad Guru:  Yes, that’s the point.  Most people who… that’s true.  Most people who are against the materialist’s theory – they don’t accept the materialist’s theory that life came from matter long ago – most of these people argue from the angle of, “Well, it would have been so improbable.  It would have been like, you know, parts to a 747 being thrown up in the air and having them all come together and it’s alive,” you see.  It’s a probability game.  But our point is that how can you say something is probable?  In other words, look at it this way:  if you can create life now by bringing together certain chemicals, if we could do that … if we could create life by bringing together certain chemicals consciously, right?  Then we could discuss the probabilities or improbabilities of those chemicals coming together in the distant past, by accident.  Do you understand that?  But since we cannot create life from chemicals today, since the bringing together consciously of these chemicals does not create life, then it’s not a… there is no discussion on whether or not those chemicals combining in the past would have created life.  It’s not a probability question.

It would be a probability question if we could create life from chemicals now.  Then we’d consider the possibility or the probability of whether or not these chemicals could have combined accidentally and randomly and thus created life.  But there’s no question of probability of something happening in the past when you can’t even make it happen now.  We can bring the chemicals together now, but life isn’t created.

So probability… the probability question then really is one which is secondary.  It’s a separate question.  The probability or improbability, that question is in connection with whether or not the chemicals long ago could have come together accidentally, randomly, spontaneously, you know, just coming together accidentally.  That’s where the question of probability comes in whether or not these dispersed, chaotic gases could have combined to form a more complex non-living structure.  That’s where we can deal with the question of probability and we do that in our ‘Who are you?’ book.  We go into depth.  It’s a very technical question, you know.  Television is not the medium to go into all the numbers and everything about how probable or improbable it was or, you know, could it have been that the certain chemicals could have combined … the so-called right chemicals, the correct chemicals could have combined.  So that’s where the probability question, the debate and arguments can center upon that – whether or not certain chemicals could have come together accidentally.  But there’s no evidence whatsoever even if it was probable that they could have come together, which it isn’t.  But even if it was probable that these chemicals could have come together or that they did come together, that still doesn’t offer any evidence whatsoever, that when those chemicals were combined, that life would have been created from that combination of chemicals.  You’re just dealing with lifeless chemicals still.

So the combination … the point is that unless now, unless right now, the chemicals that you combine create life, then you can’t talk about the probabilities of that having happened in the past – that the chemicals were combined and created life.  You can talk about the probabilities or improbabilities of the chemicals coming together but not about their creating life.  Okay?  Is this clear?

Audience:  Yes.

Jagad Guru:  So our point is that life is a distinct element.  Life isn’t created from matter.  Life is a distinct energy.  Life isn’t created from matter.  It’s not created from matter now and it wasn’t created from matter in the past.  This is a long subject and probably what we’ll do is we’ll go into it again in another discussion because we’re running out of time.  It’s so quick here.  Our experiment took a little long.

We beg the forgiveness of anyone if we’ve offended you by our sarcasm today but we feel it’s important to get across our point that you cannot conclude that life was created from matter in the past from certain chemicals.  You can’t conclude that really, honestly, unless you can create life from those chemicals today.  Thank you very much.