Origin(s) of Life

It is currently unknown if metabolic processes came before the storage of information for life or vice versa (or if both processes were developed at the same time from a specific functional molecule or molecular apparatus). Determining this is a key goal within OoL research, since it will greatly inform on the geochemical and physical environment for the origin(s) of life as we know it.

Did life on Earth start in an organic soup of molecules at the planet's surface or perhaps at the bottom of the ocean in a hydrothermal vent setting? What kinds of pressures and temperatures effected the chemical reactions that led to the development of life? What minerals were available to the earliest biochemical reactions? Determining the context of the origin(s) of life is a necessary step in understanding life in the universe.

Although we may never know exactly how, when, and where life started on Earth, active research on OoL seeks to constrain the possibilities so that we may better know how to look for extraterrestrial life, if it exists, and so that we can develop a better understanding of life's history on Earth.