Throughout human evolution, multiple versions of humans co-existed. Could we be mid-upgrade now? Juan Enriquez sweeps across time and space to bring us to the present moment — and shows how technology is revealing evidence that suggests rapid evolution may be under way.



  • prong – each of two or more projecting pointed parts at the end of a fork
  • odd – different to what is usual or expected; strange
  • misuse – use (something) in the wrong way or for the wrong purpose
  • pluripotent – (of an immature cell or stem cell) capable of giving rise to several different cell types
  • inconceivable – not capable of being imagined or grasped mentally; unbelievable
  • geek – a knowledgeable and obsessive enthusiast
  • bottom line – the fundamental and most important factor


Think about it

Answer the questions below. Pause at times indicated in brackets.

  • What are the three prongs in the picture? (1:18)
  • What has happened in the history of our planet five times? (2:22)
  • What is the first theory of the case as to why we’re here? (3:56)
  • How much does it take to change a species of human? What happened about 10,000 years ago? (6:02)
  • What differences between humans in the context of Olympics is Juan talking about? (8:10)
  • What does Juan illustrate by using the skier metaphor? (10:40)
  • What does Juan say about human memories? (12:27)
  • What does Juan say about possible reasons why autism is on the rise? (15:50)
  • How does Juan conclude his talk?


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use ONE word per blank space.

All right. So, like all good stories, this starts a long, long time ago ________ there was basically nothing. So here is ________ complete picture of the universe about 14-odd billion years ago. All energy is concentrated into a single point of energy. ________ some reason it explodes, and you begin to get these things. [ . . . ]

And I want you to ________ particular attention to the three little prongs ________ the center of this picture. If you take a close-up of those, they look like this. And what you’re looking ________ is columns of dust where there’s so much dust — by the way, the scale of this is a trillion vertical miles — and what’s happening is there’s so ________  dust, it comes together and it fuses and ignites a thermonuclear reaction. And so what you’re watching is the birth of stars. These are stars being born out of here. When enough stars come out, they create ________ galaxy. This one happens to be a particularly important galaxy, because you are here. (Laughter) And as you take a close-up of this galaxy, you find a relatively normal, not particularly interesting star.

________ the way, you’re now about two-thirds of the way into this story. So this star doesn’t even appear until about two-thirds of the way into this story. And then what happens is there’s enough dust left over that it doesn’t ignite into a star, it becomes a planet. And this is about a little over four billion years ago.


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