Cover Photograph: The recipe for primordial soup: acid or bitter, hot or warm. JBS Haldane's concept of life arising from a “primordial soup” in a bowl riven by lightning still appeals to cartoonists making dinosaur movies, but it's scientifi-cally moldy after 80 years. Studies on the origin of life are increasingly providing knowledge of the basic components that would be necessary to build artificial “living” systems, hence connecting a field of fundamental research that is frequently assumed to have no application with imminent technological developments. (see article: How did LUCA make a living? Chemiosmosis in the origin of life by: Nick Lane, John F. Allen and William Martin, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bies.200900131, in this issue). The image shows “The elementary particles of life - energy generating proteins in the mitochondrial membranes” by Ina Schuppe-Koistinen.