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TEDTalks [electronic resource]: Peter Ward - Earth's Mass Extinctions

TED Conferences LLC
Video; Computer Resource; Online Video; Online
Paleontologist and astrobiologist Peter D. Ward studies the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event (the one that killed the dinosaurs) and other mass extinctions. He is a leader in the intriguing new field of astrobiology, the study of the origin, distribution, and evolution of life in the universe. In his book Rare Earth he theorizes that complex life itself is so rare, it's quite possible that Earth is the only planet that has any. In his new book The Medea Hypothesis he claims that life on Earth has come close to being wiped out several times, whether by comet strikes or an overabundance of bacteria. In this TEDTalk, Ward argues that most of Earth's mass extinctions were caused by lowly bacteria. The culprit, a poison called hydrogen sulfide, may have an interesting application in medicine.
Release Date
Run Time
20 min.
11 & up
  • Encoded with permission for digital streaming by Films Media Group on June 24, 2012.
  • Films on Demand is distributed by Films Media Group for Films for the Humanities & Sciences, Cambridge Educational, Meridian Education, and Shopware.
Variant Title
Earth's Mass Extinctions
Peter Ward
Peter Ward - Earth's Mass Extinctions
  • Conditions for Life's Rise (2:24)
  • Difficulty Communicating with Aliens and Earth's Golden Age (2:02)
  • Mass Extinction (3:03)
  • Survival of Mammal Line (3:27)
  • Microbes Destroy Advanced Life (2:33)
  • Carbon Dioxide and Mass Extinction (1:19)
  • Reptile Heritage and Modern Medicine (3:14)
  • Global Warming Threatens Mass Extinction (0:45)
  • Clarification Question (0:37)
New York, N.Y. : Films Media Group, [2012], c2009
Publisher no.
48398 Films Media Group
1streaming video file (20 min.) : d., col., digital file.
Mode of access: Internet.
System requirements: FOD playback platform.
Technical Details
  • Access in Virgo Classic
  • Staff View