WHAT FORCES CAME TOGETHER TO KICKSTART living organisms along the path of evolution? Perhaps no scientific riddle holds as much general philosophical interest.

On October 14, 2014, Nobel Laureate Jack Szostak, a molecular biologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, discussed this question in light of his career in research. He discussed his groundbreaking work on telomeres—caps on chromosomes that keep their ends from fraying— that earned him the Nobel Prize in 2009, and current explorations of how those findings inform his investigations into how life originated on Earth.

“After working on this laboratory evolution for quite a few years, I started to get more and more curious as to how evolution got started all by itself on the early Earth,” says Szostak. “There are definitely common features of all forms of biological life that are puzzling and unexplained and I think it would be very satisfying to have some deeper understanding of why we are the way we are.”

To hear more from this fascinating lecture, click here.