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Scientific American about nanobacteria

  1. Dec 31, 2009 #1
    So, I just read part of an article in Scientific American about nanobacteria. The scientists were trying to determine whether or not the nanobacteria were alive. They approached this task by attempting to emulate the characteristics of the nanos using dead, organic materials. My question is how does that prove anything? Might I add that the compounds they created divided/grew. How do they know that they didn't just create life?
     
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  3. Dec 31, 2009 #2

    mgb_phys

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    Re: Nanobacteria

    Correct that wouldn't prove something was alive.
    I suspect what they were trying to demonstrate was wether these were reproducing organisms or just mineral crystals.
    Some nanobacteria are definitely alive (at least as far as a virus is) and can be cultured, others in geology are more controversial - they might just be minerals.
    If you can create mineral crystals that look just like these nanobacteria then they probably aren't living.
     
  4. Dec 31, 2009 #3
    Re: Nanobacteria

    But, my point is how would you know? Life had to start somewhere and on a microscopic scale.
     
  5. Dec 31, 2009 #4

    mgb_phys

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    Re: Nanobacteria

    For some of the geological samples there is some dispute whether they are nanobacteria or just crystals (eg on the martian meteorites) if you can make mineral deposits that look just like these things then you have no reason to assume they are life.
     
  6. Dec 31, 2009 #5
    Re: Nanobacteria

    I see your point, and am countering by asking why shouldn't you? Why can't microscopic life forms be made of minerals?
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2009
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