The general topic concerns the origin, evolution & distribution of life in the Universe. It aims to discuss the transition from inert matter to cellular life, as we know it on Earth. It also proposes to discuss the possibility of life occurring elsewhere as well, particularly in other environments in our own & other solar systems. The theoretical framework may be probed with forthcoming series of space missions, which at the time of writing are being planned for the next ten to 15 years. Advanced extraterrestrial life can also be probed by means of radio astronomy in the well-established project of search extraterrestrial intelligence. Our main objective is to bring together researchers in all of these fields, both from the European Community, particularly form the host country, from the United States and Japan; finally an important component will be those scientists whose expertise is in this interdisciplinary area, who are currently working in the Third World. The progress of the main space agencies the European Space Agency (ESA) & the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) will be highlighted.
The main motivation for the proposed conference is that science today aims at inserting biological evolution in the context of cosmic evolution. We will mainly attempt to convey the idea of an ongoing transformation in origin of life studies. This progress in understanding our own origins began about three decades ago, triggered by the success in retrieving some key biomolecules in experiments, which attempted to simulate prebiotic conditions. Some of the main experiments of the 1950s & early 60s were done by organic chemists including Melvin Calvin, Stanley Miller, Sidney Fox, John Oro, Cyril Ponnamperuma & their co-workers. Since that time the field has continued its robust growth. These efforts have led to view the cosmos as a matrix in which organic matter can be inexorably self-organised by the laws of physics & chemistry into what we recognise as living organisms.