"Physicists have their Big Bang, biologists have evolution by natural selection... and chemists have
the origin of life. The question of life's primordial beginnings - one of those existential questions
that humans have pondered since antiquity - belongs squarely in the domain of chemistry. The
origin of life is chemists' "big idea", a platter of interdisciplinary treats that addresses both
important chemical conundrums as well as philosophical profundities" [Ashutosh Jogalekar, March
In a new era of exciting discoveries, this is the challenge at the core of the Italian Interuniversity Center STAR (Systems and Theories for Astrochemical Research) founded jointly by Scuola Normale Superiore (Pisa), Università di Bologna and Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II. The main aim of Astrochemistry is to understand the chemical evolution of the universe: the formation and destruction of molecules in space, their interaction with radiation and their feedback on physics of the environments. The newborn universe started with the simplest atoms formed after the Big Bang and proceeded toward Complex Organic Molecules (COMs), which represent building blocks of life.
Indeed, understanding how atoms and simple molecules assembled into "prebiotic" species and biochemical building blocks, up to the emergence of life on a primitive Earth and whether this might have happened elsewhere in the universe, is one of the greatest challenges in contemporary science.