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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.
Life Helps Make Almost Half of Earth’s Minerals
A new origins-based system for classifying minerals reveals the huge geochemical imprint that life has left on Earth. It could help us identify other worlds with life too.
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.
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.
Radioactivity May Fuel Life Deep Underground and Inside Other Worlds
New work suggests that the radiolytic splitting of water supports giant subsurface ecosystems of life on Earth — and could do it elsewhere, too.
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.
‘Zombie’ Microbes Redefine Life’s Energy Limits
A new model shows that the denizens of a vast, ancient biome beneath the seafloor use barely enough energy to stay alive — and broadens understanding of what life can look like.
Why Are Plants Green? To Reduce the Noise in Photosynthesis.
Plants ignore the most energy-rich part of sunlight because stability matters more than efficiency, according to a new model of photosynthesis.