What Is Life? Is Death Real?

Life is fundamentally different
from dead stuff—or is it? Physicist Erwin Schrödinger
defined life this way: Living things avoid decay into
disorder and equilibrium. What does this mean? Let’s pretend that your download
folder is the universe. It started orderly and got more
and more chaotic over time. By investing energy, you can create
order and clean it up. This is what living things do. But what is life? Every living thing on this
planet is made of cells. Basically, a cell is a protein-based robot
too small to feel or experience anything. It has the properties we just
assign to life: it has a wall that separates it from the
surroundings, creating order; it regulates itself and maintains
a constant state; it eats stuff to stay alive; it grows and develops; it reacts to the environment; and it’s subject to evolution; and it makes more of itself. But of all the stuff that makes up
a cell, no part is alive. Stuff reacts chemically with other stuff,
forming reactions that start other reactions which
start other reactions. In a single cell, every second several
million chemical reactions take place, forming a complex orchestra. A cell can build several thousand
types of protein: some very simple, some complex
micromachines. Imagine driving a car at 100 km/h while
constantly rebuilding every single part of it with stuff you collect
from the street. That is what cells do. But no part of the cell is alive;
everything is dead matter moved by the laws of the universe. So is life the aggregate of all these
reaction processes that are taking place? Eventually, every living thing will die. The goal of the whole process is to
prevent this by producing new entities; and by this, we mean DNA. Life is, in a way, just a lot of stuff
that carries genetic information around. Every living thing is subject to
evolution, and the DNA that develops the best living
thing around it will stay in the game. So, is DNA life, then? If you take DNA out of its hull,
it certainly is a very complex molecule, but it can’t do anything by itself. This is where viruses make everything
more complicated. They are basically strings of RNA
or DNA in a small hull and need cells to do something. We’re not sure if they count as
living or dead. And still, there are 225,000,000 m³
of viruses on Earth. They don’t seem to care what
we think of them. There are even viruses that invade
dead cells and reanimate them so they can be a host for them, which
blurs the line even more. Or mitochondria. They are the power plants of
most complex cells and were previously free living bacteria that
entered a partnership with bigger cells. They still have their own DNA and can
multiply on their own, but they are not alive anymore; they are dead. So they traded their own life for the
survival of their DNA, which means living things can evolve into
dead things as long as it’s beneficial to their genetic code. So, maybe life is information that manages
to ensure its continued existence. But what about AI
(artificial intelligence)? By our most common definitions, we are
very close to creating artificial life in computers. It’s just a question of time before the
technology we build gets there. And this is not science fiction, either; there are a lot of smart people
actively working on this. You could already argue that computer
viruses are alive. Hm, okay. So what is life, then? Things, processes, DNA, information? This got confusing very fast. One thing is for sure: the idea that life is fundamentally
different from non-living things because they contain some
non-physical element or are governed by different principles
than inanimate objects turned out to be wrong. Before Charles Darwin, humans drew a line
between themselves and the rest of living things; there was something
magical about us that made us special. Once we had to accept we are like every
living being, a product of evolution, we drew a different line. But the more we learn about what
computers can do and how life works, the closer we get to creating the first
machine that fits our desciption of life, the more our image of ourselves
is in danger again. And this will happen sooner or later. And here’s another question for you: if everything in the universe is made
of the same stuff, does this mean everything
in the universe is dead or that everything in the universe
is alive? That it’s just a question of complexity? Does this mean we can never die because we were never alive
in the first place? Is life and death an irrelevant question
and we haven’t noticed it yet? Is it possible we are much more part of
the universe around us than we thought? Don’t look at us; we don’t have any
answers for you. Just questions for you to think about. After all, it’s thinking about questions
like this that makes us feel alive and gives us some comfort. Subtitles by the Amara.org community

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100 Responses

  1. Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell says:

    There's brand new stuff in the Kurzgesagt Merch Shop. Check it out here: shop.kurzgesagt.org

  2. aBitterOrange says:

    I ended up here in the middle of an acid trip. No regrets.

  3. Eghose Isiramen says:

    I already know that an existential crisis is imminent

  4. we humans need nothing but Peace&joy says:

    By infesting energy u can create order and clean it up that's what living things do then why could I want to do that, just because life allows that situation I should create order smh give me a break. edit:You all need jesus by the way 😂

  5. 1 video challenge 1K sub says:

    Anyone, 2019?

  6. somos says:

    We moved from being universe centric to planet centric to human centric to life centric. Will the next revolution discover that life is not different from non life? Will we stop from trying to be special anytime?

  7. mfnafi says:

    What is life? Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me. No more!!

  8. daniel urviola garcia says:

    What is love?

  9. LeoSlays says:

    What is life

    Anybody else look this up and found this vid?

  10. Re flx says:

    Came here to get the answer
    Returning with lots of question

  11. Findominator says:

    Why is this the only video which the thumbnail doesn't load for me :0

  12. Churlz says:

    Life just sucks

  13. Bao Pham says:

    Can we be reborn?

  14. Olrok TheBrave says:

    We are not alive

  15. Nathan Erickson says:

    I got constant goosebumps on this audio masterpiece.
    Very well done, you guys create such beautiful art.

  16. Ze Famous Productions says:

    Hello, nice videos. I have a question: Why you say that all stuff inside a cell as mitochondria or proteins are dead. Who says that? Which experiment shows that proteins are dead? What dead means ?

  17. Wahid Muttaki says:

    I think therefore I am.

  18. Bang Bokir says:

    Bipolar guy in nutshell

  19. merlinsdog says:

    Life is an illusion, death is an imagining! Be you & it will all become clear at some point!

  20. Flarbargason says:

    "We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will."
    -Chuck Palahniuk

  21. B Panda says:

    4:37 I told everyone the pikachu was a living animal!!!

  22. Rylan Gebauer says:

    What the fuck is life

  23. _ Kalafioreg _ says:

    Nice video

    Music <3

  24. BananaDayz says:

    Living things keep order??
    Guess I’m dead…

  25. hybrid gamer says:

    I want to die, I should not have been born.

  26. Romulo Gallegos says:

    Grandioss vídeos

  27. Михаил Волков says:

    02:50 where can I read more? Google gives irrelevant "zombie" stuff

  28. Uganda Knuckles Christ says:

    maybe chemistry is what make things alive

  29. Ahmed Hussein says:

    From religious point of view, the human body is dead to the moment God gives it a soul. So soul is life.

  30. First Name Last Name says:

    life doesnt exist
    if im wrong i will make sure that it wont exist
    thank you for coming to my ted talk

  31. good day says:

    You guys need ISLAM, there is no confusion there, a confused person can't give you answers.

    You'll always be lost till you read the QUR'AN.

  32. Valeria Olivas says:

    So things are things that we forced to give up their life so that we can survive and the only thing that really is surviving is like nothing ahhhhhhhh

  33. Wf Dy says:


  34. HARDCORE says:

    Maybey that will help you to think :
    Everything inside u is dead… But all dead things together is making us alive 🤔

  35. Biggs Baysic says:

    Even non-living things are inclined toward order. That's why we can even exist.

  36. Dean Jelbert Austria says:

    2:50 zombie virus

  37. Chris Wade says:

    The background music adds so much to this interesting video

  38. Frigidsoul says:

    Life is created by food company to sell more foods

  39. Samruddha Kulkarni says:

    Death is made up by funeral companies to increase sales

  40. Strazdas says:

    "every living being is made of cells"
    <Viruses chuckles uncomfortably>

    Btw, there is no definition of life that includes viruses and excludes rocks.

  41. hanbin youn says:

    crazy to think that even in 230,000 years into human history, we will still never know what happens to us when we die

  42. VIstup says:

    Brain.exe has stopped working

    Thinking.exe is not responding
    IQ.exe ERROR 505

  43. Argonic Berries says:

    Title: What is life?

    Me: how tf am I supposed to know I don’t even have one

  44. momo boy says:

    A doctor can't automate god.

    Or can he????

  45. we humans need nothing but Peace&joy says:

    Life is something which is fundamentally absurd the way it survives and reproduce for nothing special just for the amusement of an god thr I solved your puzzle kurzgesgt.

  46. General Caos says:

    So, basically we are just an anomaly of constant chemical reactions and in reality we are just a cluster of cells that react to one another at the same time.

  47. Adrian Kwok says:


  48. Rekar Rkr says:

    "invade dead cells and reanimate them"
    um … is it by any chance called T-virus ?

  49. starlight - says:

    Can we have a video on myths and afterlife

  50. Magic Tube says:

    life is thing that is very rare in the universe. if you put enough energy in one place you will make an organism. is that a good explanation or…

  51. Gabriel Har says:




  52. Utkarsh Dubey says:

    One simple answer: 42

  53. Prasanth velpula says:

    we need a video on what energy is

  54. Prasanth velpula says:

    we need a video on what radiation is

  55. Prasanth velpula says:

    we need a video on why do we "think"

  56. Järven says:

    Ah yes Inslaved existential Crisis.

  57. Jai Shevkar says:

    It depends on the dimension of time,space,gravity,etc .
    chaos is life & order is dead.
    life is individual & common is dead.

    when we are in a dimension in which space,time or any sort of factor does not effect then we are
    beyond life n dead as we are in order as we are order as eternal .

    its difficult for me to explain as it can be experienced not defined as i cant define the order but we can be in order or we can become the order itself.
    this answer is complex to understand it a person should have no perspective (people who understand it are

  58. Rosie Young says:

    Lessons I’ve learned in life:
    🌟We spend most of our time and a great deal of our emotional energy living in time that is not here, in an elsewhere which is not concretely real. So we develop a chronic anxiety about time and forget to realise that reality can only be found in the present moment. The future is a concept it doesn’t exist- there is only an eternal now

    🌟Life is a pattern, a dance of energy
    What makes an energy system is the concept that it let’s go of itself

    🌟I evoke light out of stars, hardness out of wood- my ear drums evoke sound out of vibrations in the air
    I am the universe experiencing itself

    🌟Experience polarises itself as self and other just as a magnet has a south and North Pole – but it’s one
    You wouldn’t know the meaning of happiness without sadness, good without evil.. you can’t have a front without a back, a penny with two heads, black without white.
    All things which have a beginning must have an end.

    🌟True love is a love of giving not of receiving – you surrender yourself although there’s a high chance it won’t work out. And if it doesn’t that’s okay. It’s about the journey not the outcome.

    🌟In madness lies sanity – what is conflict at one level is harmony at another

    🌟The subprime self is absorbed in all the different pathways and organisms which constitute life, it’s so invested it forgets its playing a game
    All this world is a big act- at the end we’ll sit back and say well wasn’t that a great show

    🌟Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment

    🌟There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than the image of our world as a speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. This only underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to cherish and preserve this small blue dot- the only home we have ever known.

    🌟Do it all. Make art, learn science, fall in love, contemplate existence.. challenge yourself. Do everything you can. Experience everything while you can.

    🌟Drift like a cloud, flow like water seeing that all life is a magnificent allusion, a playing of energy and there is nothing fundamentally to be afraid of

  59. Scaper Ebon says:

    This video makes me think back to The Egg Theory.

  60. Videogames and Movies Tributes says:

    At least what the death that is known to us exist…one day a human stop functioning, like, in every way

  61. Lion Yosef says:

    But why the gentic codes as DNA do all this tricks to survive? how does a chemical compound evolve itself to the level that it wants it self to multiply and survive?

  62. cartucho da internet says:


  63. Franz1987 says:

    I recommend a nice psychedelic experience for everyone in their life, it really connects you to a feeling of 'oneness'. This has been studied scientifically, like at Johns Hopkins here in Maryland

  64. WEEP Q1 says:

    I saw pikachu

  65. Altaris01 says:

    Humans are biological computers, we are just making a better replacement for us.

  66. MotoYoshi says:

    Please stop.

  67. TTV_NoAlabamaSweat says:

    Detroit become human 100

  68. Because im buttman says:

    Can you tell me the title of the music at the end

  69. Emilios Powerballer says:

    Imagine being dead and all of a sudden a virus comes up and wakes you up, staying alive until the end of time

  70. 선비 says:

    내 유전자를 후세에 전달하면 도대체 뭐가 의미가있고 뭐가 남는단 말인가
    이 세상이란 정말이지 차갑고도 차갑고 잔혹하다

  71. D. Engelbrecht says:

    I remember when my mother tried to explain me the difference between
    "alive" and "dead" as a child. I looked at a chair and asked myself if I
    can really find a way to proof that it is dead (aka that matter is
    dead). I found non. Science rests on the axiom that there is a
    difference between a mind and the object it investigates. If that is
    untrue (for example because matter is alive or we are in a matrix that
    is created by a mind) it falls flat on it's nose. Science can hence not
    proof that materialism is real, it just assumes it. I think science is
    now doing round about the same thing as the catholic church in the
    mediveal age: the church marketed itself as a cure for a fear that might
    have no real representation (hell). Science creates a fear that might
    not be justified either (fear of death) to promotes it,s own

  72. D. Engelbrecht says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that the term misleading term "dead" is grounded it a stupid fear of things that are fundamental different than us – aka xenophobia? Remember that people at various point in history thought that animals have no feelings, or that black people have no souls, or that even the next neigbouring tribe is made up of entirely of ghosts…We made the same error with the universe again, I am completely sure of it (because I know the typical ways the human's mind fail).

  73. D. Engelbrecht says:

    Hi universe!

  74. Manuel Garcia says:

    Your body is a symphony, thousands of instruments that all have a task to do. Main objective: keep the symphony going for as long as possible

  75. Everything Mac says:


  76. TheTheater says:

    ma la cosa che distingue gli esseri viventi dagli oggetti non viventi non dovrebbero essere le cellule stesse? insomma una roccia o un computer o un robot sono composti di materiale inorganico e quindi sono oggetti non viventi, dunque non ha senso farsi tutte queste domande🤔

  77. Bhavani Gopalkrishna says:

    Me, listening to this video: This sounds like something Tim would write about.
    Video brings up Wit But Why: OH MY GOD IT'S SOMETHING TIM WROTE ABOUT.

  78. Guy Person says:

    Life is: a magazine, a board game, a bitch, the right choice, all around us, something we need to tax (democrats only), too short

  79. TheEveningEconomies says:

    If you enjoyed this video go and play Nier automata

  80. Henki says:

    I swear I will help in the effort of advancement of people, advancement of knowledge and the preservation of earth and its history. Those are my values. What are yours?

  81. Sector-7 Blitz says:

    This video make me think,. What is waiting me after i died,. Where am I will go after i die., what kind of place is that…

    Remember for what you have done in your life,. You will responsible in the Afterlife,.

  82. Ramy Ramy says:

    "All what we know we know nothing "

  83. Wow Ya says:

    What is life?
    Baby don’t hurt me

  84. RoseOfTheNight4444 says:

    I'm alive but really I'm dead inside.

  85. Steven Sadowski says:

    That's not even a fraction of what we are?

  86. Jingtai Lei says:

    "give us some comfort"? dude thinking about these questions make me wanna kill myself

  87. Split Fire says:

    Life is fake just like this world it’s just an allusion we all will cease to exist in a couple hundred years

  88. Elias Renteria says:

    "The mitochondria, They are the powerpants of most complex cells"
    Hey I know this one

  89. Ronald Peña says:

    Why does this video block out the idea of human essence/ spirit… it’s not like there’s anything disproving it the same way nothing proves it

  90. Parsa Darbandsari says:

    Computer viruses are just an ordinary piece of code which are programmed to harm something

  91. shrodinger's cat says:

    i always wonder who dislike the videos of this channel and why?

  92. cena karimi says:

    yeah i wonder about that, but i suppress it so i can move on with my day/life, if everything is just atoms, then im just a systematic integration of atoms, which makes me, the "alive me", just a bigger more complex atom, im just an atom and life plus my individual entity are an illusion…

  93. WildeWolf 158 says:

    Me: I am alive
    Kurzgesagt: What is the difference between life and death?

    Me: Maybe not…

  94. Ryan Shane says:

    To answer those questions, we have to answer what is soul first

  95. Red Capitan says:

    5:21 Thanks Satan

  96. RagnarokGuy32 says:

    What if our meaningless existence is only the twisted experiment of a superior being? And if this is true, is this being our God? Will we be able to surpass him someday? And if this is also true, is the experiment's solely objective to achieve an ultimate omniscient entity? And such creature can only be obtain by creating this chaotic universe and therefore, humanity?

  97. BigBazzaHimself says:

    Me at 3 AM

  98. Cj_sucks_at_life says:

    Death is when your HP reaches zero. You can use a recover item to prevent this from happening. But if you end up dying just use a revive item.

  99. Le Smol Potato says:

    There is no afterlife. PeRiOd

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