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We propose a universal, astrophysically based theory of the origin of life on Earth and on other rocky planets as well. Life is an information system where the information content grows because of selection. It must start with the minimum possible information, or the minimum possible departure from thermodynamic equilibrium. It also requires thermodynamically free energy that is accessible by means of its information content. Hence, for its origin, we look for the most benign circumstance ordoi:10.1142/s0219525903001079 fatcat:xgwn32kdpfbu5jm65nios7bw5i