Imagine we could voyage back in time, back nearly a third of the way to the big bang itself, back to when life on Earth was just emerging. 

The exact details of how chemistry gave way to biology—of how life arose and took hold of our world—are now lost to the ages, swept away by more than four billion years of our ever changing planet’s history. What is clear, however, is that the secrets of life’s earthly genesis would be invaluable guides in the search for life elsewhere in the universe. And most fortunately, we have what amounts to a planet-scale time machine and origins-of-life chemistry lab within our reach.

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