A new research group is being created to advance our understanding of the emergence and early evolution of life, and its place in the cosmos.
Called the Origins Federation, four leading institutions are engaged in establishing the group:
— The Origins of Life Initiative (Harvard University)
— Centre for Origin and Prevalence of Life (ETH Zurich)
— Center for the Origins of Life (University of Chicago)
— Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe (University of Cambridge)
The Origins Federation inaugural science conference will take place at Harvard University on September 12 – 15, 2023.
Long way to go
According to a University of Cambridge statement:
“For thousands of years, humanity and science have contemplated the origins of life in the Universe. While today’s scientists are well-equipped with innovative technologies, humanity has a long way to go before we fully understand the fundamental aspects of what life is and how it forms.”
Furthermore, scientists have discovered more than 5,000 exoplanets. Trillions more are predicted to exist within our Milky Way galaxy alone.
“Each exoplanet discovery raises more questions about how and why life emerged on Earth and whether it exists elsewhere in the universe,” the University of Cambridge statement adds. “Together, Federation scientists will explore the chemical and physical processes of living organisms and environmental conditions hospitable to supporting life on other planets.”
Happy accident, fundamental nature?
The formation of the Origins Federation was announced during the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting held this month in Washington, DC.
Speaking at the AAAS event, Emily Mitchell from Cambridge’s Department of Zoology and co-director of Cambridge’s Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe.
“As we begin to investigate other planets through the Mars missions, biosignatures could reveal whether or not the origin of life itself and its evolution on Earth is just a happy accident or part of the fundamental nature of the universe, with all its biological and ecological complexities,” Mitchell said.
Adding to the tool kit regarding the origin of life, such technological advancements, such as the James Webb Space Telescope, to provide researchers access to huge volumes of new observations and data.
“Sifting through all this information to understand the emergence of life in the universe will take a big, multidisciplinary network,” points out the University of Cambridge statement.
For more information on the Origins Federation, go to: