When asked to explain the need to study cellular evolution, W. Ford Doolittle, professor of biochemistry at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, offered the following scenario: "If martians were to visit us and ask where we came from and how we got here, and we were to say we didn't think it was worth pursuing, I'd be embarrassed."

The origins and evolution of life are still a mystery, and opportunities abound for those with the temerity to broach this primordial problem. For example, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) pays out $3 million (US) in exobiology grants to about 30 recipients a year, as a part of its continuing research into the Genesis questions. "The idea of exploring life in space is that it has something to do with life on earth," says Michael Meyer, discipline scientist of astrobiology at NASA. For researchers who would like to explore...

Interested in reading more?

Magaizne Cover

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?