Articles, Blog

‘Hey Bill Nye, What If Life Had Evolved From Viruses?’ #TuesdaysWithBill

December 30, 2019

Viewer: Hey Bill. I’m just curious, what would life look like
if it had evolved from viruses instead of bacteria? Bill Nye: Maybe life did evolve from viruses
and we just don’t know it. However, it sure looks like bacteria went
off on their own. And talking some more about me, in my book
Undeniable, which I like to think of as a primer on evolution, I speculated that viruses
should have their own domain of life, the vera, which in the Latin would be a second
declension noun. In Latin apparently they did not have a plural
of virus, they never needed one, they never used it in the way we use it today. So I don’t know if life evolved from viruses,
but in my own experience I am thoroughly charmed by the science fiction story Andromeda Strain
where the compartmentalization of the chemicals needed for life was done with crystals rather
than with membranes. And it’s science fiction everybody, but bacteria
are different from viruses in that bacteria have these separate structures whereas viruses
seem to be a single molecule, what you might think of as a single molecule. And so viruses are more akin to proteins than
they are to bacteria, but proteins are created by bacteria so it is very reasonable that
there is some ancestor to viruses and bacteria so that they have in common a common chemical
ancestor. Proving that seems to me it should be possible. When I was growing up people celebrated and
questioned and thought hard about the Miller Urey experiment or Urey Miller experiment
done by these two scientists who tried to create the conditions of the primordial earth
in a big glass flask. And apparently the one thing they didn’t all
the way figure out was sulfur, which now people generally believe would have come into the
earth’s atmosphere from volcanoes. I was in school at Cornell University I walked
into the Space Sciences Building when Carl Sagan was very active and teaching classes
and stuff and they had the Urey Miller experiment running. It was a big glass flask with these electrodes
sparking because it was presumed or is presumed that in the ancient atmosphere there was lightning
and this electricity could cause chemical changes that would have been very, very fast. And so the idea is that you would look for
or try to create molecules that through their natural existence created copies of themselves. And so that was the goal. It turns out that creating amino acids, these
are biological molecules that have a carbon with a double bond and an oxygen on the side,
amino acids aren’t apparently that hard to create. And we find them in asteroids and we find
them all over the earth and scientist or chemists have been able to create amino acids that
have the same pattern but don’t exist in nature or we haven’t found them in living systems,
instead they’re very similar but we don’t find them in nature. So all this makes me think that it is reasonable
that someone could create something akin to these primordial atmosphere primordial conditions
on earth experiments that would make molecules that replicated themselves. And we would find that maybe there is a common
ancestor to both viruses and bacteria. Whoa. Would that molecule be dangerous? Would it be like the super virus or the super
bacterium? Intuitively I don’t think so because we’re
all here. Whatever happened happened and it didn’t kill
us. So maybe you’ll be the guy that figures out
the Urey Miller and the next step, the next step of Urey Miller, the next step of self-replicating
molecules with primordial components. It is a very compelling idea. Keep us posted.


  • Reply Controversy Deluxe February 8, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    if nature created us and we created amino acids, isn't that just the next step in the evolution of nature? anything mankind does is nature, we are nature.

  • Reply PartisanGamer February 8, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    For whoever cares, a tid bit of information:
    Viruses arent considered "lifeforms" and the most prevelant theory is that Viruses regressed from higher lifeforms into what they are now.

  • Reply Jonas .Thiel February 8, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    but viruses aren't Alive right? They don't have their own metabolism and therefore need other organisms to reproduce, so how could they have been there first?

  • Reply TheTarutau February 8, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    I personally consider DNA to be the basic unit of consciousness not sure about rna but DNA seems to be capable of real time action reaction responses. Heard there is a bacteria that uses its golgi app. Like a lens and hunts down prey with it. So cool.

  • Reply T James Glore February 8, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    The Wolowitz of science

  • Reply Connor Stegner February 8, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    That's a good fucking question.

  • Reply Juanito February 8, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    Wtf is wrong with the video adound his bowtie though

  • Reply TONY MONTANA February 8, 2017 at 6:50 pm


  • Reply Celtic Revival / Adfywiad Celtaidd February 8, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Are humans just viruses with shoes? 😀

  • Reply MikiMaki76 February 8, 2017 at 7:09 pm

    viruses are parasites, they couldn't have evolved first, they are clearly a spinoff of bacterial life. saying that viruses came first it's like saying that predators came before other animals, it just doesn't make any sense.

  • Reply zambi February 8, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    the matrix

  • Reply Neil Robinson February 8, 2017 at 7:27 pm

    His book is great. He even recorded the audio book himself!

  • Reply P L February 8, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    it explains our inability to share the earth.

  • Reply daddymoon666 February 8, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    who cares what this Monsanto hack has to say…

  • Reply LivingAsLynn February 8, 2017 at 7:39 pm

    How is an Engineer with no post doctorate work supposed to know the answer to this? Why do you people think this guy is an actual scientist?!

  • Reply MrC0MPUT3R February 8, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    The things people ask a guy with an engineering degree… lol

  • Reply SierraSierraFoxtrot February 8, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    I haven't read "The Andromeda strain" but the movie is possibly the best movie ever made about the scientific process of investigation as well as being a helluva thriller.

  • Reply Abi B February 8, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    Yo he is cute tho

  • Reply alg11297 February 8, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Life evolved from star dust. However since there are stars throughout the universe there is no reason it shouldn't have happened on every other planet. Hey, when you work from a pre-concieved notion you gotta stick with it.

  • Reply SupahBambi February 8, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    NO "CARRY ON"??????!!!!??!?!??!?!!!?!?!

  • Reply P03enix February 8, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    I thought viruses were Akaryocytes, which are non-living biological entities

  • Reply seantendo001 February 8, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    Bill Lie, the pseudo science guy.

  • Reply J. P. February 8, 2017 at 10:13 pm

    Hey Bill Nye, what if life had evolved from Bill Nye???

  • Reply zhain0 February 8, 2017 at 10:56 pm

    we are a virus, look at what we are doing to our planet

  • Reply Shawn Ravenfire February 8, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    It makes me wonder about computer viruses.  They can replicate themselves and mutate.  Theoretically, a computer virus, over enough time, could evolve into some sort of digital life form.

  • Reply MARt February 8, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    New Big Think video = time to clean the monitor screen.

  • Reply blurglide February 9, 2017 at 12:03 am

    Ridiculous question: a virus can't survive without other living organisms to infect.

  • Reply AnamolyZen February 9, 2017 at 12:05 am

    I think of the "Flood" from the "Halo Series" if viruses did do that.

  • Reply David Murphy February 9, 2017 at 12:15 am

    Viruses are necessarily parasitic in nature and don't qualify as life. A virus without a host cell is untenable so it's therefore simply impossible for life to have evolved from viruses. Well, unless we redefine viruses as purely as molecular replicators but that's so strained as a definition as to lose what a virus is. The answer was no, not yes or maybe and the classification of life we have is there for good reason.

  • Reply nlitenurmind February 9, 2017 at 12:41 am

    97% grand solar minimum – 3% virus

  • Reply GekkanShounen February 9, 2017 at 1:13 am

    No need to think of such things anymore. With our new secretary of education on board we will all read bibles instead of textbooks and scientific theory will be replaced by pop-up books and pop culture can be filled in with hymns

  • Reply Neil Fairland February 9, 2017 at 2:19 am

    So you think Eating Genetically Modified Food healthy? Fruits like tomato ? by eating them taste like plastic though comparing by with Organic Fruits, in England Organic Fruits are decreasing and this is worrying, I hope Bill Nye is taking Organic side

  • Reply Neil Fairland February 9, 2017 at 2:32 am

    It's highly possible amino acid created when some asteroid carried the building blocks and delivered to Earth.

  • Reply Dave February 9, 2017 at 3:04 am

    Bactirus gona fuck shit up

  • Reply Rick Cs February 9, 2017 at 3:22 am

    can you guys change the new picture for the thumbnail??

  • Reply Jung Sa February 9, 2017 at 3:26 am

    ok… so I watched video, and I don't know if it's just my screen.. but anyone else notice the suit popping out of place like it's a cut out?

  • Reply David Campos February 9, 2017 at 3:47 am

    My thumb up is 792.

  • Reply Von Neely February 9, 2017 at 5:13 am

    There is a theory that the sexes evolved from the predator-prey relationship between viri and bacteria.

    The idea that 100% fatal virus is self-defeating. It runs out of hosts. But if, by mutation, a virus let's a host produce both viruses and more of the host, then it will always have more hosts. The ideal balace for that kind of bacterial reproduction just happens to be 50/50. Eventually it goes from parasitic to symbiotic and everything else is just aeons of genetic crossover until the two once-separate species are more alike than different, which you can do at the most basic levels of life.

  • Reply T B February 9, 2017 at 5:21 am

    Does anyone else notice theres a square of slowed down video under bill nye's neck down to the bottom of the screen throughout the video?

  • Reply Tony Reyes February 9, 2017 at 5:49 am

    Bill rules always interesting I love that there is a regular appearance

  • Reply vcostor February 9, 2017 at 6:19 am

    There is a weird box in the bottom centre of the screen, noticeable all the time but lags during camera changes

  • Reply Cannen McSweeney February 9, 2017 at 6:35 am

    This motherfucker is still educating me. Love that bowtie

  • Reply Nick Latham February 9, 2017 at 8:33 am

    This is an interesting viral video!

  • Reply Astrolime February 9, 2017 at 10:30 am

    There is a Radio lab podcast that gets into this. The theory is that viruses evolved from a bacteria or another mrico-organism became a parasite then further change getting smaller and what not.

  • Reply sirdeadlock February 9, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    For life to have evolved from viruses, vira would likely have had to adapt a method of domestication for bacteria to harvest the resulting protein. I doubt it would have been like bipedal humanoids. Maybe more like seaweed or coral with bulging pustules. Chances are they would have been covered in mold since mold spores are easy food for bacteria, but I believe not so much for viruses. Just my guess anyway.

    Our bodies are super organisms. A colony of smaller things working together. We are what it looks like when a massive population must find a way to sustain itself.

    If viruses were organized like us, I suppose the big question is if they could at some point be able to eat each other: convert a virus into food for other viruses.

    Probably the best way to know what path they would take is to examine how a virus becomes resistant to antiviral medicine.

  • Reply Ito cc February 9, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Funny, I was looking at agent smith perception of humans

  • Reply Rick D. February 9, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    We need better explanations. These explanations are at best, very unsophisticated.
    There is far more going on here than anyone is willing to address. In
    fifty years our theories will be very different. Evolution is an
    oversimplification, the real answer will be far more nuanced. The amount
    of information involved is absolutely staggering.

  • Reply Jesus Valenzuela February 9, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Bill is "OG" from the 90's till now he still kickn the shit.

  • Reply Symbian Casper February 9, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    Bill looks like he is tired of answering stupid questions..lmao. he is like " live and let live fk, where is that bottle".

  • Reply Symbian Casper February 9, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    How about we consider our self to be GERMS?. go google that.

  • Reply Bill Nye Fake Science Guy February 9, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    Is Leftism A Virus?

  • Reply Crazy prayingmantis February 9, 2017 at 9:56 pm

    We all know man was created from dirt in a garden and women were created from ribs, by an invisible man. Why are all these scientists wasting their time? We have the answer to everything we need to know already.
    It's simple …watch
    How did life begin – God did it
    How did everything get here – God did it.

  • Reply Mike Zalez February 10, 2017 at 4:38 am

    ok, ok, Nye. is this channel meant for questions completely devolved from a scientific base? i want to know why we can't feel our heat radiate from our skin, but can easily sense the tiniest amount of external radiated heat… what interference could the body be getting at?

  • Reply Eric D February 10, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    ok, what was with the visual glitching where part of the screen was lagging behind the rest by like a frame or 2? was that a streaming issue, an editing issue? a recording issue? an issue with my graphics card? what?

  • Reply Leonidas GGG February 10, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Some humans are viruses… And then they become presidents.

  • Reply joshua c February 11, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    This guy obviously likes his girlfriend's strapon

  • Reply kestrel archer February 11, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    if life evolve from virus, then i doubt that multicellular organism able to exist and this in turn will prevent the creation of complex system we found in multicellular organism. "ADVANCED" LIFE THAT EVOLVED FROM VIRUS WOULD BE REALLY, REALLY SIMPLE IN COMPARISON TO US RIGHT NOW. that life probably don't have phospholipid bilayer as its cell membrane. the reason multicellular organisms exist is because of the membrane bound organelles such as chloroplast and mitochondria in eukaryotic unicellular organism that allow the energy production to be efficiently produced which is prerequisite of creating larger and complex cell and in turn complex multicellular organism. This eukaryotic unicellular organism (protists) was actually created from prokaryotic unicellular organism (bacteria) as shown by lynn margulis theory when they engulfed one another and the one being engulfed has electron transport chain (ETC) on its membrane and chlorophyl which turn them into mitochondria and chloroplast respectively. Virus lack this characteristic in fact, they almost never need to expand energy since they are by definition a parasite. so the lack of energy probably prevent the creation of large multicellular organism as we know today.

  • Reply GreenSlugg February 11, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    My background is in Biotechnology and Molecular Bioscience. This guy doesn't understand a word he's saying.

  • Reply Steven Robledo February 12, 2017 at 6:18 am

    That's not what an amino acid is chemically. There isn't a double bond on the base of amino acids

  • Reply EZCAPE Records February 12, 2017 at 8:52 am

    i have a question for you Bill Nye

    why don't we have science "churches" ?


     pretty much nothing to do with a church just people going to an area kids
    etc can learn about the wonders of the universe?

    the media might blow this out of proportion as some people might relate
    it to Scientology

    if you think the biggest reason people follow religion is because of the
    community this would solve the problem and make people of other walks
    of life have a better idea of science as they can go to their church and
    just sit down and learn about the universe

    it could even help increase education because parents could take their
    kids so the kids instead of learning about the hell they might be forced
    into if they don't comply they will learn about the bending of space
    massive energy creating suns. absolute coldness where matter can change
    into a wave of different possibility it would excite them because it is
    the closest thing science has to magic.

    then when they get old enough for school after looking at it at home
    because it excites them they will just see the math as puzzles to be
    able to learn more about that magic world when they were kids.

     this could even have a paradigm of thought change as the kids when young
    would go telling other people and other kids about that magic world with giant suns that keep us warm etc and discussing
    how it actually works


    there are probably many flaws or cons to this idea just something i
    think would be a good idea

  • Reply Adam Stevens February 12, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    The next step (I can't take credit for this, I read it somewhere) was not sticking all of the primordial junk together all at once and zapping it, but doing it step by step with only some parts at a time. The analogy was, you can't make a cake by mixing all of the base ingredients together all at once and expect it to turn out. You do it in stages. This would not be dissimilar from the primordial earth, because there would have been pockets of places with different material and different condition, which might then mix with other places and other conditions at a later time.

  • Reply Scott Lahteine February 13, 2017 at 7:49 am

    The premise is flawed. Viruses couldn't have arisen first because there was nothing for them to infect. Even if viruses from another planet arrived here on an asteroid, without some host to infect they would never get any foothold.

  • Reply Skelly MacAullen February 14, 2017 at 7:20 am

    He may not be a "real scientist", but if you truly look at the basic definition of science, science is the study of life and the world around us. Anyone could be a scientist if they look into and study the world around them. Therefore, since he is interested in learning about and educating others about the world around him, he is a scientist – we all are scientists.

  • Reply Tobias Ommer February 24, 2017 at 11:20 am

    iirc from our systematic paleontology lectures the current theory is that viruses evolved from life, basically becoming simpler over time and adapting to parasitism

  • Reply Luis Valencia February 24, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    What if life evolved from tacos? ** tu tu tu tu tu tu tu**

  • Reply Dr. Vikram Choudhary February 24, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Viruses are retrograde evolution so i think viruses are evolved from bacteria

  • Reply Doktor McNasty March 5, 2017 at 5:14 am

    Watch Bill Nye's jacket closely. When he moves you can see the limitations of the compression algorithms the video codec is using.

  • Reply a. y March 7, 2017 at 5:35 am

    Viruses require cells to survive. Although the RNA route looks feasible especially when you consider that the earth could assist by providing many mechanical, electrical and thermal processes!

  • Reply KarabetGiav March 9, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    how do I ask a question?Where do I post it?

  • Reply whatbuttondoipush March 10, 2017 at 2:02 am

    Hey Bill, Check out "Trapped in Prism" by Alan Dean Foster. It has a world inhabited by crystals, and has fast evolving sentiant creatures. Maybe that is what viral life would look like.

  • Reply Drop Out March 11, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    If we evolved from virus we would be zombies……and we would need God to save us that would be an awesome story….XD

  • Reply Jan March 23, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    Virus: I caught a bad human ….. *badumtssssss

  • Reply jgrowland24 March 26, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    WTF!?!? why didn't you name your book undeNYEable?

  • Reply vincent ramel May 5, 2017 at 6:55 am

    Wouldn't that be terrible if we've evolved from a virus. Like 100 years later they found a cure for this human virus and tested it to someone, then turned into something mindless, weaker humanoid person. I dont think it would be a good idea

  • Reply Mahir Siraji May 7, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    certain incestor!

  • Reply J Potter May 8, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    Ugh. Seeing "PragerU" propaganda fronting on these vids. You do you, youtube, never change LOL

  • Reply r0bw00d May 12, 2017 at 12:25 am

    Life did evolve from viruses. Just look at us!

  • Reply Marcelino Martinez May 15, 2017 at 3:26 am

    Bill nye the science guyyu…BILL BILL BILL!

  • Reply Payhole Everdouche June 9, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    What if it's a Virus inside Bill's head that's doing the talking for him?

  • Reply Matt Lynn August 5, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    Check out protein prions.

  • Reply Richard Joyce May 4, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    Some life evolved from viruses they are usualy called beurocrats or pollaticians…

  • Reply Josh Brough May 12, 2018 at 1:20 pm


  • Reply mike hawk June 8, 2018 at 11:18 am

    still mad he didn’t call it undeNYEable

  • Reply Travis Bohanan June 17, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    we got lucky

  • Reply philiummatterblaster August 10, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    b ill I had to coment on here because they disabled the commenting on you touring the ark lol. an I have to say haven't finished it but I love it I see u making them actually question there ignorant beliefs wich I have to say I like to believe there is something when I die but that's me maybe theres not an that sucks but I like the way you think

  • Reply Burgess Park December 7, 2018 at 7:35 am

    Bill Nye is a good example of life evolving from a virus (combined with a parsite)

  • Reply Hunter hamilton January 11, 2019 at 8:31 am

    what would life be like if viruses had never existed?

  • Reply Alex Freitag March 16, 2019 at 3:24 am

    i love that he always ends these videos by encouraging his askers to try and figure out the unanswered big questions in science. it's very encouraging.

  • Reply Nicholas Johnson April 6, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    Bill, you're a comedian, mechanical engineer and satanic disinformation agent.

    UFO's are demonic to support the fake global Earth and evolution is a satanic, anti God deception

    I pray for you, to God and through the blood of Jesus.


  • Reply Upscale Avenue April 17, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    It's amazing to think that something that's not even alive can be the most dangerous creature on the planet.

  • Reply UniversalBlox April 24, 2019 at 4:30 pm


  • Reply fntime June 9, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    Bill Nye was an engineer his expertise hydraulics, he worked on airplane brakes.
    I'm sure that it required effort to learn how to fix plane brakes.
    BUT, having a BS doesn't make you a scientist, intelligent or a truth seeker.
    Bill talks about a lot of subjects that he lacks expertise.
    If a man wears a bow tie, it shows he may have a lot of 'secrets'
    He is a smug, pedantic unqualified monkey with Cheese Balls,
    and that's how his mother describes him.

  • Reply Bruce Cook June 14, 2019 at 4:35 am

    ever think that the conditions and ingredients to make life existed somewhere other than earth like an astroid or meteorite ect…, and the earths atmosphere just wasn't hot enough to cook it up, but enough once landing to protect it allowing it to continue to live and replicate once landing in favorable conditions? the life on earthn could have possibly risen outside of earth and is why we can't use primordial earth conditions to conceive it.

  • Reply Cliff Willins June 27, 2019 at 3:34 am

    JESUS is the only way..

  • Reply ADE 1960 ehrg June 27, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    Then we'd all be germans.?

  • Reply Daniel Modesto July 1, 2019 at 12:57 am

    What bugs me the most is that he never gets the question.

  • Reply gearhead 130 July 13, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    I have always thought that viruses could be the original life even before bacteria. They are very simple and they seem like they could form by probability, and then evolve into bacteria over time. Just a hypothesis, not saying that's what happened.

  • Reply Gagahba Shhsh August 8, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    Who else think the guy looks like Dan Kenny.

  • Reply Adam Kučera October 31, 2019 at 7:44 pm

    viruses dont even exist

  • Reply cBearTv November 24, 2019 at 4:04 am

    ⁉️#QUESTION… So could it be possible that on other planets life may have evolved from a virus, on a planet that is more suitable for virus evolution than bacterial?!

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