Polymer professor featured in Werner Herzog documentary about meteorites


Dr. Nita Sahai, Professor and Ohio Research Scholar in the School of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering, was featured in the recently released documentary “Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds” co-directed by acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog and Dr. Clive Oppenheimer. Herzog is known for directing the documentary “Grizzly Man” and his recent acting role in the Disney+ series “The Mandalorian.” Oppenheimer is a geologist and professor at The University of Cambridge, U.K.

“Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds” features experts from around the globe sharing their views on how meteorites have influenced the origin and evolution of life as well as human culture in societies across the globe. Herzog and Oppenheimer travel around the world searching for meteors and their significance while developing connections between science, history and mythology. They investigate the ancient understandings of meteors through the traditions of Mayan astronomers, Papuan tribal elders and Indigenous Australians.

Dr. Sahai was invited to be interviewed for the film because of her expertise on the interaction of organic molecules with mineral surfaces that may have played a role in the origins of life, in particular, how meteorites may have served as sources of organic molecules for life 4.2 billion years ago in the early stages of Earth.

“Meteors may have carried organic molecules and gotten life started on earth,” says Sahai. “In the movie, I am interviewed at a meteor impact crater site in India. At the center is a 9-th century temple for Shiva, the god who embodies the creation and destruction of the universe. In a beautiful analogy, meteorites may have delivered the molecular components to kick-start life, but we also know meteorites wiped out the dinosaurs, which allowed mammals to evolve.”

The film was chosen by the Toronto International Film Festival for release and is now available for viewing on Apple TV+.

Media contact: Alex Knisely, 330-972-6477 or aknisely@uakron.edu.