How did the first cells make the scene? Could there be critters on some newly discovered planets? And what happens if we ever encounter weird life? These may not be the sort of questions you hear being bandied about in your local coffee shop, but they were hot topics at the AbSciCon conference held recently in Santa Clara, California, and sponsored by the SETI Institute.
AbSciCon stands for Astrobiology Science Conference, and Seth was there, talking to researchers about progress in puzzling out how life began on Earth, and where it might have gained a claw-hold elsewhere. Could there be certain parts of our Galaxy that are off-limits for life? Also, hear whether our universe has special properties that render it just dandy for life, and whether we should be looking for viruses on Mars.