Notices
Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Alternative Bases For Life

  1. #1 Alternative Bases For Life 
    New Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    4
    I don't know if this would be better placed in the Astronomy section, but I guess since it's sort of about biochemistry, it'll be fine here.

    All right, so I've been doing some reading, and apparently, life on other planets doesn't have to be carbon based. From what I understand, it can be based on silicon, boron, a phosphorous/nitrogen combination... thingie... and other stuff... and I've also read that water doesn't have to be the main solvent for life either. Apparently, things like ammonia work well in the right circumstances, too. I've also read that other kinds of life don't have to breathe oxygen -- they can breathe stuff like methane and just plain ol' nitrogen.

    My question is this: which solvents and which... inhalants, I guess one could call them, would go well with which kind of life? What I mean, is, for us carbon-based lifeforms, we are just fine with breathing in oxygen, and are perfectly happy drinking water. Well, what about things based on the other stuff I mentioned? What would work for them? How does this even work in the first place?

    I have some of the pieces to the puzzle, it's just hard to put them all together. :?


    "The 'Z' is for 'zealousness', 'cos Jesus wants us to be hot for him, not lukewarm." -Lambuel
    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Futuria
    Posts
    57
    if you think we could ever be "adapted" to breathe in non-oxygen substances and use them for surviving that really hard to imagine.

    But maybe some of such substances could be used TOGETHER with our usual stuff to improve its usage? Was it ever tested...


    Want to have unlimited power? Dont stop learning and u'll have it.

    http://science.mojforum.si
    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    New Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    4
    No no no, silly, I don't mean if WE could breathe other stuff, I mean which kind of stuff would work for, like, alien life. What I mean to ask is, I suppose, which kind of stuff, other than the oxygen/water/carbon-based life combination, would be plausible for an alien ecosystem.

    Sorry if I confused you.
    "The 'Z' is for 'zealousness', 'cos Jesus wants us to be hot for him, not lukewarm." -Lambuel
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4  
    Forum Professor wallaby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    1,521
    i'm not into biology but this does intrigue me.

    i guess alternate bases for life could even mean different bases in the DNA leading to a perhaps different shape or even triple or more helixes.

    but if complex life was able to come together in that environment then i guess it's possible.

    when contempating alien life, it really is just that contemplation.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    Him
    Him is offline
    Forum Sophomore Him's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    181
    Just to mention the link between oxygen and carbon based can not be a global statement. Organisms that use oxygen gas have evolved by the simple fact of the mayor oxygen waste of photosynthesis. Most (carbon based) organisms do not need oxygen.
    he who forgets...will be destined to remember (Nothing Man - Pearl Jam)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Futuria
    Posts
    57
    so if we dare to think.. we might meet "people" oneday that could solve out green house effect etc ... by just living around us Or by replacing trees for their work in photosynthesis ? (that would be great)
    Want to have unlimited power? Dont stop learning and u'll have it.

    http://science.mojforum.si
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UTAH, USA
    Posts
    3,112
    I believe that life is a very general sort of process that can in principle occur in any medium or system with the potential for complex interactions. For example I think it quite possible that a machine life (or software life) may one day be possible. BUT, whether machine life or life, based on chemical reactions whose principle elements replace any one of carbon, oxygen or hydrogen with something else, can achieve the same sophistication as the life we are familiar with, is too highly speculative to make any intellegent guess about.

    For example, consider the following suppostions:

    Intellegent alien life may be based on an element other than carbon.

    Intellegent alien life must inevitably be based on the element carbon.

    Either one of these suppositions may be correct and we have absolutely no way of getting any handle on any sort of probability or guess about which one.

    It seems to me, that the possibility of a different solvent for life than water is a much greater possiblility than a substitution for carbon, but again this is pure speculation. For such possible solvents I would consider the most abundant molecules found on other planets such as methane and ammonia. Other possibilites may be alcohol or methanol, which although far less abundant are still fairly simple and have some chemical similarities to water.

    On the other hand while we are indulging in such wild speculation I see no reason why there cannot be life with no liquid solvent of any kind at all. Certainly a fluid of some kind seems necessary for material transport but then what about a gas instead of a liquid? But even material transport may not be neccessary. Machine or software life would be based on the transport of information only.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Beautiful Pacific Northwest, USA
    Posts
    2,116
    This type of question has always intrigued me from the standpoint that it almost seems the wrong people believe the wrong things.

    That is, it seems to me that the religious community would be more likely to believe there is a lot of other life in the universe, but does not generally do so.

    In contrast, it would seem the scientific community would be more skeptical of alien life, but seems quite eager to believe there is.

    If, for example, there is some creator, there would be no reason to believe he or they would have populated one planet and stopped there. A creator most certainly could have created numerous planets with a similar make up of earth upon which to place life. In lieu of that, a creator could have created life forms which could survive in other kinds of environments. It fact, it seems a highly likely thing for a creator to do.

    When it comes to establishing the odds of life commencing from random events, the different factions use the same numbers to prove the opposite results. There seems to be some consensus that the odds exceed 1 in 10 to the 50th. According to Borel's Law, such a calculation is the equivalent of zero chances.

    Creationists use this calculation to show that there could be no random beginning. Evolutionists use this calculation to show that no calculation is possible or realistic.

    Factor in the various number of estimated habitable planets and what do you have?

    I have seen formulas from which one can conclude that Earth beat the odds. Other formulas are more optomistic. Which only shows you can use math to prove just about anything.

    However, considering the low probability of random spontaneous generation of life as compared to the most optomistic estimates of habitable planets, I think the math tends not to support the idea of a lot of randomly generated life in the universe.
    Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. -- Albert Einstein

    If God DID do all of this, is He not the greatest scientist of all? -- dt, 2005
    Reply With Quote  
     

  10. #9  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UTAH, USA
    Posts
    3,112
    Quote Originally Posted by daytonturner
    That is, it seems to me that the religious community would be more likely to believe there is a lot of other life in the universe, but does not generally do so.

    In contrast, it would seem the scientific community would be more skeptical of alien life, but seems quite eager to believe there is.

    If, for example, there is some creator, there would be no reason to believe he or they would have populated one planet and stopped there. A creator most certainly could have created numerous planets with a similar make up of earth upon which to place life. In lieu of that, a creator could have created life forms which could survive in other kinds of environments. It fact, it seems a highly likely thing for a creator to do.
    I believe C. S. Lewis would have agreed with you.

    In general it may be more a matter of interest than belief. The religious are more interested in spiritual growth (developing their relationship with their creator) and studying scripture seems to be the one reliable method for this in which they most often believe. From this perspective, speculation about life on other planets would be a meaningless distraction. Philosopher's might have more interest in the topic for the sake of the interesting question that arise from the possibility, but these questions are more often explored by science fiction writers with a taste for philosophy than by academic philophers. Scientists, however, can see a wealth of questions relevant to science in the topic. And though serious efforts in science rarely touch on the topic, efforts to engage public interest in the sciences often has used this topic as a way of introducing the related science.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

    I now have a blog too: http://astahost.blogspot.com/
    Reply With Quote  
     

  11. #10  
    Forum Ph.D.
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Dublin, Ireland
    Posts
    945
    i don't see how calculations liek that can be used, i jsut don't liek the theory of probablilty, can be used in this suitation, eg. we don't know all the varyibles, probability is grand for cards and dice, but thats ther in front of you, we cannot knwo the different mixes that can make lifeforms,
    eg. we don't the amount of other planets..
    or the aboundance of the right elements on those x number of planets.
    do you see where im going, maths cannot be used here.

    now, the biochemical aspect , is that our life here, is water based, is carbon based, we use a transport system that relys on water, because , we evolved, if you will grew up with an abundance of H2O. we changed some more to allowe us to get energy form carbohydrates, with water as an end product. it goes on like that,
    we are carbon based,

    the fact then that if life started with an abundance of alcohol, then they would be liek fish to alcohol,

    but then.. thats a bad example, because alcohol is ... carbon based!

    im gonna answer your question: i think its impossibel to predict how different lifeforms... live!
    how do they get energy? the way we doit is H+ ions right, form the carbon, its all very confusing!
    Stumble on through life.
    Feel free to correct any false information, which unknown to me, may be included in my posts. (also - let this be a disclaimer)
    Reply With Quote  
     

Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •