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Carbon and Arsenic

  1. Nov 17, 2005 #1
    Me and a friend are having alittle arguement about whether arsenic which kills carbon based life forms would kill silicon based lifeforms. I think it still would kill silicon based lifeforms but he thinks it won't, can someone please help me. Thank you
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 17, 2005 #2
    The reasons arsenic is toxic, are varied. Given this, it is hard to imagine that we can say with any certainty that it would or wouldn't be toxic for silicon based life forms.

    Also see the various analyses of the effects of arsenic implied here: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/bookdescription.cws_home/681046/description#description [Broken]

    In short, given the myriad ways that arsenic affects living systems (oxidative stress, chemical alterations to cellular macromolecules, competitive interference with biochemical pathways) it is premature to conclude that silicon based life forms would be unaffected by the element.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  4. Nov 18, 2005 #3


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    I have to agree with pattylou. Given the vast array of toxic effects caused by arsenic, ie, neurotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, vascular disease, alterations in sulfhydryl-containing enzymes, disruption of cellular respiration and mitochondrial function, carcinogenicity, etc, it is more likely than not that arsenic would be toxic to silica-based life as well.
  5. Nov 18, 2005 #4
    thank you both, I will redirect my friend here and then he I will win this time. It is sort of a contest that started with this arguemnet that the "loser" of the arguement give the "winner" a quarter, small but a prize none the less.
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