Given the limited initial supply of heavy elements, how early did life actually start? Could alternative liquids have existed in the early universe as a result of warming by the cosmic radiation background alone? If we ever succeed in creating synthetic life, as is being attempted in Jack Szostak's laboratory at Harvard University, we could check whether life can emerge in liquids other than water. One way to determine how early life started in the cosmos is to examine whether it formed on planets around the oldest stars. The dark and frigid conditions that will result from the accelerated expansion of the universe by dark energy will likely extinguish all forms of life 10 trillion years from now.