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A New Idea for How to Assemble Life
If we want to understand complex constructions, such as ourselves, assembly theory says we must account for the entire history of how such entities came to be.
Inside Ancient Asteroids, Gamma Rays Made Building Blocks of Life
A new radiation-based mechanism adds to the ways that amino acids could have been made in space and brought to the young Earth.
A Dream of Discovering Alien Life Finds New Hope
For Lisa Kaltenegger and her generation of exoplanet astronomers, decades of planning have set the stage for an epochal detection.
What Is Life?
Without a good definition of life, how do we look for it on alien planets? Steven Strogatz speaks with Robert Hazen, a mineralogist and astrobiologist, and Sheref Mansy, a chemist, to learn more.
Secrets of the Moon’s Permanent Shadows Are Coming to Light
Robots are about to venture into the sunless depths of lunar craters to investigate ancient water ice trapped there, while remote studies find hints about how water arrives on rocky worlds.
The Webb Space Telescope Will Rewrite Cosmic History. If It Works.
The James Webb Space Telescope has the potential to rewrite the history of the cosmos and reshape humanity’s position within it. But first, a lot of things have to work just right.
The Astronomer Who’s About to See the Skies of Other Earths
After the ultra-powerful James Webb Space Telescope launches later this year, Laura Kreidberg will lead two efforts to check the weather on rocky planets orbiting other stars.
Why Extraterrestrial Life May Not Seem Entirely Alien
The zoologist Arik Kershenbaum argues that because some evolutionary challenges are truly universal, life throughout the cosmos may share certain features.
What Is an Individual? Biology Seeks Clues in Information Theory.
To recognize strange extraterrestrial life and solve biological mysteries on this planet, scientists are searching for an objective definition for life’s basic units.