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Life on a faraway planet—if it's out there—might not look anything like life on Earth. But there are only so many chemical ingredients in the universe's pantry, and only so many ways to mix them. A team led by scientists at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has exploited those limitations to write a cookbook of hundreds of chemical recipes with the potential to give rise to life.
Their ingredient list could focus the search for life elsewhere in the universe by pointing out the most likely conditions—planetary versions of mixing techniques, oven temperatures and baking times—for the recipes to come together.