Extreme life might be visible on colourful exoplanets

Lichens and algae could be the first life forms we find on Earth-like exoplanets, by looking for their light signatures in a planet's distinctive colouring.
Astronomers have found several rocky worlds in the habitable zone, the region around a star where liquid water can exist on a planet's surface, and many more are thought to exist. As telescopes get more sensitive, we should be able to collect light reflected off such planets and look for clues to their surface conditions.


What is life? The physicist who sparked a revolution in biology

Insights from biology and computing built upon Schrödinger’s genius, changing our view of life forever. Photograph: Rick Sammon/AP

Matthew Cobb
Seventy years ago, on 5 February 1943, the Nobel prizewinning quantum physicist Erwin Schrödinger gave the first of three public lectures at Trinity College, Dublin. His topic was an unusual one for a physicist: “What is Life?” The following year the lectures were turned into a book of the same name.