Earth's 4.5 billion year history is a complex tale of deterministic physical and chemical processes, as well as "frozen accidents". Most models of life's origins also invoke chance and necessity. Recent research adds two important insights to this discussion. First, chance versus necessity is an inherently false dichotomy--a range of probabilities exists for many natural events. Second, given the astonishing combinatorial chemical richness of early Earth, events that are extremely rare may, nevertheless, be deterministic on time scales of a billion years.
Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution for Science
Dr. Robert Hazen, research scientist for the Geophysical Laboratory at the Carnegie Institution for Science, discusses how scientists can predict which minerals will be found on other planets, increasing the probability of finding life.