View Full Version : Silicon-based organisms may be inside the Earth

2006-Jul-01, 06:48 AM

2006-Jul-01, 07:00 AM
Some reason you are recommending the link?

2006-Jul-01, 07:11 AM
Hm. Interesting idea, but silicon isn't as adaptable or as stable as carbon, so silicon biochemistry is a lot less likely over the long term than carbon-based. You'd think, given that silicon is the commonest element on Earth, and carbon is one of the rarest, that, if life could have formed from silicon on Earth, it would have.

2006-Jul-01, 08:09 AM
Some reason you are recommending the link?

The reason is in the subject line of the message:
Silicon-based organisms may be inside the Earth

Isn't that wonderfull if we find silicon-based life in the Earth?

Ronald Brak
2006-Jul-01, 11:07 AM
I doubt that silicon based life will be found. Unless there are odd circumstances where silicon is superior, carbon is generally a more useful substance for life to use. If there were silicon based bacteria on earth, any variations that started to use carbon compounds could have an advantage. Eventually they might effectively become carbon based.

I think silicon based life would only exist where there is no carbon or perhaps under very special circumstances. Since carbon is quite common I doubt we'll find much silicon based life in the galaxy.

2006-Jul-01, 11:49 AM
The reason is in the subject line of the message:
Silicon-based organisms may be inside the Earth

Isn't that wonderfull if we find silicon-based life in the Earth?

It would be wonderful if it happened. However, it would also be wonderful if you followed the etiquette around here of saying something in your post about the link instead of just posting it. While your thread title gives some information, it's still mannerly to give at least a line or two of information in the post itself.

2006-Jul-07, 01:08 PM
I used Doctor Gold's interesting ideas as the basis for this fictional alien race;
however I have extreme doubts about whether such organisms would be possible in real life, or if they are, I doubt that we would find them within our own planet. That would be too much of a coincidence.

Tom Gold had some pretty amazing, off the wall ideas; since his death, few of those ideas have been taken seriously. Some might say deservedly so.

2006-Jul-07, 01:58 PM
Carbon based bacteria have been found as deep as several kilometers into the Earth. LINK (http://www.sciencenews.org/pages/sn_arc97/3_29_97/bob1.htm)

I checked the link in the original post and some connected ones and found no particular description of the silicon life form, no discussion on how deep into the Earth, what their chemistry might be, nor any particular evidence to support the idea.

Paul Mitchell
2006-Jul-07, 03:03 PM
The major chemical problem with silicon-based life is that silicon doesn't catenate like carbon does (i.e. form -C-C-C- chains). Indeed carbon is really the only element that does to any great degree.

It is possible to create silicon-oxygen chains however (-S-O-S-O-S-O-). This means that direct silocon analogues of long-chain carbon molecules are structurally idfferent because of the extra oxygen atoms in the backbone. This doesn't mean that they can't exist, but it probably does mean that they're quite different to carbon based ones.

Another nasty problem is that the silicon-oxygen analogues of carbohydrates are unstable with respect to combustion in the presence of oxygen. So if there are silicon based organisms they are almost certainly anaerobic (maybe that's no hinderance deep down?), and very likley oxygen intolerant.

2006-Jul-07, 03:46 PM
The other problem is that silicon has a lot slower reaction rates than carbon. Everything would take longer to do. It is questionable whether such an orgnism could react quickly enough to deal with changing environments.

Reminds me of a line I use sometimes when the topic of organic food comes up:
"Of course the food is organic. What do you think it is, silicon based?"