Research by several SFI faculty appears in a special issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Series A, dedicated to the fundamental question of how complex life originated. 

The 2017 issue leads with an introduction co-authored by astrobiologist Sara Walker (Arizona State University), a co-editor of the issue and a collaborator in SFI's Research Collaboration Network for Exploring Life's Origins.

"The origins of life is our best chance at discovering scientific laws governing life, because it marks the point of departure from the predictable physical and chemical world to the novel, history-dependent living world," write Walker and her co-editors. The issue aims to "stimulate new directions for solving the origins of life" through a presentation of "some of the most promising future directions."

Included in that presentation are seven articles by eight SFI-affiliated faculty, highlighted below:

  1. (Research) "Universal biology and the statistical mechanics of early life" by Nigel Goldenfeld, Tommaso Biancalani, and Farshid Jafarpour
  2. (Research) "Origin of life in a digital microcosm" by Nitash C G, Thomas LaBar, Arend Hintze, and Christoph Adami
  3. (Review) "Coarse-graining as a downward causation mechanism" by Jessica C. Flack
  4. (Research) "The thermodynamic efficiency of computations made in cells across the range of life" by Christopher P. KempesDavid Wolpert, Zachary Cohen, and Juan Pérez-Mercader
  5. (Research) "An intermediate level of abstraction for computational systems chemistry" by Jakob L. Andersen, Christoph Flamm, Daniel Merkle, and Peter F. Stadler
  6. (Research) "Resurrecting ancestral genes in bacteria to interpret ancient biosignatures" Betul Kacar, Lionel Guy, Eric Smith, and John Baross
  7. (Review) The role of public goods in planetary evolution by James O. McInerney and Douglas H. Erwin


Read the full issue, 'Re-conceptualizing the origins of life' in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A (November 13, 2017)

Read the article, "New Paper answers causation conundrum," about Professor Jessica Flack's review (November 16, 2017)

Read the article, "The astonishing efficiency of life," about research by Omidyar Fellow Chris Kempes et al (November 16, 2017)

Learn more about SFI's Research Collaboration Network for Exploring Life's Origins