How life originated on Earth is one of mankind's fundamental questions – and has so far been considered difficult to answer. The progress made in various scientific disciplines in recent years, however, has brought new approaches to this question to light. They combine astronomical observations with sequential laboratory experiments that combine astrochemistry, geology, theory, physics and biochemistry. The scientists hope to gain new insights through intensive interdisciplinary dialogue and productive engagement between experiment and theory.
The researchers from Research Unit E (RU-E) are dedicated to precisely these interdisciplinary approaches: they are searching for mechanisms that enable non-living matter to set the evolutionary machinery consisting of replication, mutation and selection in motion and keep it alive.
Life already arises on young planets
The scientists from RU-E are convinced that the first spark of life ignited in a very short time under suitable boundary conditions on early planets - the evolution of life, on the other hand, took billions of years. The knowledge gained over the last ten years indicates that a combination of interdisciplinary approaches has a real chance of reproducing the emergence of molecular evolution in laboratory experiments. The researchers' ultimate goal is to uncover a possible pathway from dead matter to life.