At first glance, home may seem to be a human construct, an intersection of time, place, and emotion that is unique to our mental sphere, and disjoint from science.

But animals also have homes, whether it is a beaver dam or a termite mound. So homes clearly extend beyond the human. And bacteria have homes too, of a kind: Self-constructed masses of dead cells and symbiotic communities without which they cannot function, and which researchers are only starting to reproduce in the laboratory. They show that home does not require even a resident consciousness.

Turning skyward, we find that our sun has not only an ancestral birth cluster, but likely also sibling stars of similar dimensions and composition, which may give us clues about the origins and nature of the Earth. The idea of home then becomes independent of life. In fact, it can be independent of any material object whatsoever—researchers working on artificially intelligent computer programs must understand what a “home” for the mind looks like, and whether it even exists.

The intersection between home and science, then, is broad and varied. But the message we are left with is familiar, and even intuitive: Home is ephemeral, complex, and universally important.

Welcome to “Home.”