Help with Article: Life as we don't know it.

In summary, the idea of silicon-based life is flawed because it is less thermodynamically stable than carbon-based life. Furthermore, ammonia is a gas on Earth, which would make it difficult to sustain life.
  • #1
olek1991
17
0
Ok I'm currently exploring other forms of life, mainly silicone and ammonia based life
I found out they can replace carbon and water in our system but I'm a bit stuck on the fact if they can replace both.

So we would have SI instead of C and NH3 instead H2O.
I think that assimilation (12H2O(l) + 6CO2(g)+ light→ C6H12O6 (glucose)(s) + 6O2(g) + 6H2O(l))
would become something like: Si3H4(s) → 3Si(NH)2(s) + H2(g)

This would make it rather tricky to live since your breathing H2 and that's a bit too flammable

So I need someone to help me work this and some more problems out, if your interested please reply. And Id also love someone to read the whole thing and give some constructive feedback.
 
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  • #2
Your proposed reaction is incomplete. You're missing two nitrogens; is N2(g) supposed to be a product?

A few other thoughts: I don't know much about the biology side of this, but I know for a fact that Si-Si bonds are weaker than C-C bonds. I suppose this idea is plausible, from a chemical standpoint, but it's unlikely that silicon based life would form over carbon based. It may also be a problem that NH3 is a gas, while H2O is a liquid. The courses the reactions would have to take would be very different when you're looking at solid-gas reactions. I feel like water (or some liquid) would be necessary at some point before you start forming really complex compounds like amino acids, or some form of them anyway.
 
  • #3
Ah thanks for pointing that out, I forgot to add ammonia (the water replacement(I should have said that x.x)) this should do the job;
2NH3(l) + Si3H4(s) → 3Si(NH)2(s) + H8(g)

It may also be a problem that NH3 is a gas, while H2O is a liquid.
The main objection is that the liquid range of ammonia is -44 degrees centigrade and that that is too low for any life to thrive. This true but the liquid range is specified by the pressure of the planet which on Earth is 1atm but for example on Jupiter or Venus where the pressure is 60atm the boiling point is ammonia becomes 98 degrees centigrade instead of minus -33 giving it a liquid range of 175 degrees

So that shouldn't give a problem, how much weaker is SI tho?
According to my chem teacher it can replace the C in all Organic substances.
And it doen't need to be able to form over C just form instead of C because the planet is too hostile for C-life.

Maybe I should post my entire draft so it will be easier to find the flaws?
 
  • #4
I feel I should point out a flaw in the idea of silicon based life. The reason why life as we do know it is "carbon based" is because of carbon's exceptional ability to catenate (i.e. to make long chains with itself). This is how large organic molecules can form with ease. For example, the rings of C-C bonds in all the residues in the amino acids that form proteins, and all fatty material. From what I remember, it's far less thermodynamically stable for silicon to catenate - the highest possible chain for silicon is only about 11 or 12 Si - Si bonds long, although even the disilane, Si2H6 is difficult to obtain.

(Above figures taken from Main Group Chemistry by A.G. Massey)
 

Related to Help with Article: Life as we don't know it.

What is "Life as we don't know it"?

"Life as we don't know it" refers to the possibility of life forms that are drastically different from the ones we know on Earth. This could include organisms that thrive in extreme environments, have different biochemical processes, or even exist in forms that we cannot comprehend.

Why is studying "Life as we don't know it" important?

Studying "Life as we don't know it" can provide us with a greater understanding of the diversity and potential of life in the universe. It can also help us expand our knowledge and technology for space exploration and search for habitable planets.

What methods do scientists use to study "Life as we don't know it"?

Scientists use a variety of methods to study "Life as we don't know it", including laboratory experiments, simulations, and observations of extreme environments on Earth. They also use data from space missions and telescopes to search for signs of potential life forms on other planets.

What are some examples of "Life as we don't know it"?

Some examples of "Life as we don't know it" include extremophiles that can survive in extreme environments such as hot springs, deep sea vents, and polar regions. Other examples include organisms with unique biochemical processes, such as using alternative energy sources or having different building blocks for DNA.

Could "Life as we don't know it" exist on other planets?

Yes, it is possible for "Life as we don't know it" to exist on other planets. In fact, the discovery of extremophiles on Earth has led scientists to believe that life could exist in a wide range of environments, including those that were previously thought to be uninhabitable. Further exploration and research can help us determine the potential for life on other planets.

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