Science Odyssey, A: Origins
The earthquake that shattered San Francisco, California, in 1906 opens a century of explosive discoveries and debates in the earth sciences. We see Earth through the eyes of Alfred Wegener, struggling to convince the scientific establishment of 1911 that continents do move, and watch as radiodating techniques increase Earth's estimated age—sometimes inspiring skepticism if not outrage. Meanwhile, a parallel upheaval rumbles the life sciences, where new evidence of our primate ancestors and the discovery of DNA's structure stir up controversies of their own. Ancient fossils and living cells give up their secrets to change our view of our species and the mechanics of life.
San Francisco earthquake, 1906
Earth remains mysterious and unpredictable
- Earth's Origins?
- New methods and astonishing ideas
- What do we know about Earth?
- Competing disciplines, conflicting results
- Alfred Wegener's continental drift theory
- Searching for proof
Genes and Evolution
The "what" and "how" of evolution
- The view on Darwin
- Gregor Mendel's work rediscovered
- T.H. Morgan confirms genes' existence
SIMULATION: Morgan's fruit fly experiments
A bone of contention
- The Taung skull—a missing link?
- The Piltdown Man hoax
- The Scopes trial
A journey to the ocean floor
The earth moves!
- Harry Hess finds deep sea trenches
- Multiple proofs of continental drift
- Eruptions mark the continental plates
- Impact on evolution
New branches on the family tree
- Africa as the cradle of humanity
- Who is our common ancestor?
Evidence, clues, and theories
- Primordial soup
- Discovering the structure of DNA
- Using DNA to trace evolution
- Sparking life from non-living material
SIMULATION: Spark of life experiment
- Meteoric theories