Can We Find Silicon-Based Life?



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We all know life on earth is made up of carbon and carbon-based compounds. However, some researchers speculate that lives somewhere else can have a different chemical structure – perhaps silicon based element for example.

During 1891, the German astrophysicist Julius Scheiner was perhaps the first person to speculate on the suitability of silicon as the basis for life.

This idea was taken over by the British chemist James Emerson Reynolds (1844-1920) which, in 1893, in his opening address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science pointed out that the silicon compounds heat stability might allow that life can exist at very high temperatures.

Thirty years later, JBS Haldane suggested that life can be found deep inside a planet based on partly molten silicates, with the oxidation of iron as a possible source of energy.

We could imagine this silicon based life structures would sometimes wires, such as glass fiber, can be connected by tensor elements to form flexible, sensitive, perhaps even hazy structures.

However silicon does have several disadvantages compared to carbon. It lacks a large extent, the ability to combine with other elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur and metals. Because of its larger atomic mass and – by meter can enter into the more difficult covalent bonds which are important for biochemical reactions. Polymers on the basis of silicon and oxygen, or silicones are more stable in corrosive streams than carbon bonds.

While on earth silicon occurs much more than carbon, our biochemistry is still based on carbon. However, some researchers have dared to speculate about life forms based on silicon. If carbon is extremely scarce and the temperatures are high, life based on silicon has clear advantage. Hence the researchers saying the chance of silicon life forms to estimate higher in the core of the galaxy. One thing is clear, if you are looking for a silicon based life, you must have lots and lots of patience to distinguish it by stabbing to these living rocks.