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Have we encountered alien life already and just not realized it? Will deepening our understanding of life in the universe transform our understanding of ourselves? Explore the profound questions surrounding the nature and origins of life that propel the research of astrobiologist Dr. Sara Walker of Arizona State University in this interview.

Walker is the recipient of a $2.9 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation for a project, co-led by Templeton Prize laureate Paul Davies, to explore the transitions bridging chemistry and the origins of life.

What Is Life?

“Life is literally the physics of creativity,” says Walker. “It’s hard to imagine what it’s going to be like when we actually understand what we are,” she says. “I think we take for granted how special we are. We are a very odd kind of system to exist.”

Watch the video to learn more about Walker and her team’s efforts to expand our definition of life, and to seek whether there are fundamental, universal laws to describe life analogous to the laws of gravitation. It’s a quest for knowledge that could not only enlarge our vision of the universe — it could transform our understanding of ourselves.

This is the fourth video in our series of interviews produced by the independent media company Freethink. Watch the first episode here, which features Dr. Uri Maoz discussing the neuroscience of free will and its implications for human freedom. Then watch the second episode and explore the latest research in the science of forgiveness with Dr. Amrisha Vaish, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and leader of a project studying the development of forgiveness supported by the John Templeton Foundation. The third video features Dr. Liane Young, professor of psychology at Boston University, discussing the science of morality and how people can broaden our sense of right and wrong to be more fair to people outside of our tribes.

Young is the project co-leader with Fiery Cushman of the John Templeton Foundation-supported project on “Reasoning in moral thought and action,” which examines when, how, and why reason plays a role in morality, alongside other emotional and situational influences on our moral judgments.

Still curious? Discover our other research papers on discoveries. Explore topics such as: