What it takes to solve the Origin(s) of Life: An integrated review of techniques


Understanding the origin(s) of life (OoL) is a fundamental challenge for science in the 21st century. Research on OoL spans many disciplines, including chemistry, physics, biology, planetary sciences, computer science, mathematics and philosophy. The sheer number of different scientific perspectives relevant to the problem has resulted in the coexistence of diverse tools, techniques, data, and software in OoL studies. This has made communication between the disciplines relevant to the OoL extremely difficult because the interpretation of data, analyses, or standards of evidence can vary dramatically. Here, we hope to bridge this wide field of study by providing common ground via the consolidation of tools and techniques rather than positing a unifying view on how life emerges. We review the common tools and techniques that have been used significantly in OoL studies in recent years. In particular, we aim to identify which information is most relevant for comparing and integrating the results of experimental analyses into mathematical and computational models. This review aims to provide a baseline expectation and understanding of technical aspects of origins research, rather than being a primer on any particular topic. As such, it spans broadly – from analytical chemistry to mathematical models – and highlights areas of future work that will benefit from a multidisciplinary approach to tackling the mystery of life’s origin. Ultimately, we hope to empower a new generation of OoL scientists by reviewing how they can investigate life’s origin, rather than dictating how to think about the problem.


Klaus Paschek
Klaus Paschek
Ph.D. candidate - Astrophysics

My research interests include prebiotic synthesis, planetary science, and autocatalysis.