MinutePhysics and Cosmologist Sean Carroll Propose a Purpose for Life

Oct 27 2016 -- 4:00 PM

Neither cosmologist Sean Carroll nor the man behind YouTube Channel MinutePhysics, Henry Reich, is Deep Thought from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. But if you want to ask some profound questions and get some reasonable answers (that aren't 42), those two brains are a pretty good bet. They recently collaborated on a video titled "What is the Purpose of Life?" and we have to tune in and at least lend them four minutes of our time.

The video above, which is the last in a series of videos based off of Carroll's book "The Big Picture," delves into a short, clear lecture on entropy. Entropy, as Carroll points out in the video, is "the measurement of disorder" in a system. Carroll also points out that "organisms ultimately depend on and facilitate the universe's tendency to increase entropy."

As the video shows, this essentially means that every time a source of energy is used, some of it becomes lost as "noise and heat." So not only are perpetual motion machines impossible to build—because you could never use 100% of an energy source—but organisms like humans are constantly taking energy and "losing" some of it as heat waste.

Ultimately, Carroll claims in the video that life arose to take advantage of low-entropy energy sources (like warm vents on the ocean floor). That is to say, life arose as a simple chemical reaction that takes low-entropy energy and converts it to higher-entropy energy. So, according to Carroll, we're here to use up energy and make it less useful, to do our part in increasing entropy. This doesn't really seem like a "purpose" so much as a "thing that happens in this universe" but the science is still fascinating!

What do you think about Carroll's theory for the purpose of life? Does it satisfy your deepest philosophical concerns, or do you still want somebody *cough* Google *cough* to build a Deep Thought type machine? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Images: MinutePhysics