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What are your opinions on the possibility of a silicon based organism or life form? :)
 

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Have you been watching the Star Trek episode “Devil in the Dark”? The Horta is the creature featured in this episode, and it’s a silicon-based life form.

As you probably know, carbon (mostly in the form of hydrocarbons) is the basis of life on this planet. Silicon would be the next element in the periodic table with properties similar to those of carbon. Hydro-silicon compounds are a possibility, so there’s a theoretical possibility of silicon-based life. But there are a number of problems. Since a silicon atom is heavier than a carbon atom, the bonds between silicon atoms are only stable at much lower temperatures than bonds between carbon atoms (they require a temperature around -150F). Therefore, silicon-based life forms would be possible only in very cold planets/habitats. But there’s a further problem: lower temperatures mean low chemical reaction rates, so the metabolism of silicon-based organisms would be necessarily slower than carbon-based organisms’ metabolism. So, silicon-based organisms would be able to generate less energy for mechanical action (and remember, our brains require massive amounts of energy).

Silicon-based life forms would be very primitive, at best; flourishing only where there’re no carbon-based competitors.

Natural selection, operating on the first replicators would quickly eliminate silicon-based life forms, so only the more fit carbon-based organisms would survive. The only way you’d see a silicon-based life form would be on some frozen planet/satellite (like one of the Jovian moons, like Europa), where there’s not enough carbon (and energy) available to form carbon-based replicators. But even in this case, you’d expect those life forms to be very primitive (unicellular organisms, or very simple multicellular organisms, like fungi).
 

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NextGenerationGaymulation
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I beliave their can be failry advanced silicon based organisms.
 

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Old Man
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Boltzmann pretty much summed up what I was gonna say about the chance of silicon based life forms. While the chances of their existence is there, the conditions for silicon based organics to survive is very low.
 

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I havent watched star trek is so0o0o0o0o0o0o0o long. I used to watch it with my dad all the time when I was 5. I still watch it today though. Thanks boltzmann, I can always count on you for a good scientific explanation :thumb: Of course in my opinion, I think it would be rediculous to start thinking about the possiblility of a Germanium based organism :lol:
 

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Boltzmann said:
Have you been watching the Star Trek episode “Devil in the Dark”? The Horta is the creature featured in this episode, and it’s a silicon-based life form.

As you probably know, carbon (mostly in the form of hydrocarbons) is the basis of life on this planet. Silicon would be the next element in the periodic table with properties similar to those of carbon. Hydro-silicon compounds are a possibility, so there’s a theoretical possibility of silicon-based life. But there are a number of problems. Since a silicon atom is heavier than a carbon atom, the bonds between silicon atoms are only stable at much lower temperatures than bonds between carbon atoms (they require a temperature around -150F). Therefore, silicon-based life forms would be possible only in very cold planets/habitats. But there’s a further problem: lower temperatures mean low chemical reaction rates, so the metabolism of silicon-based organisms would be necessarily slower than carbon-based organisms’ metabolism. So, silicon-based organisms would be able to generate less energy for mechanical action (and remember, our brains require massive amounts of energy).

Silicon-based life forms would be very primitive, at best; flourishing only where there’re no carbon-based competitors.

Natural selection, operating on the first replicators would quickly eliminate silicon-based life forms, so only the more fit carbon-based organisms would survive. The only way you’d see a silicon-based life form would be on some frozen planet/satellite (like one of the Jovian moons, like Europa), where there’s not enough carbon (and energy) available to form carbon-based replicators. But even in this case, you’d expect those life forms to be very primitive (unicellular organisms, or very simple multicellular organisms, like fungi).

Human type life with silicon is silly however assuming we do not know all the elements in the universe there could very well be one that supports life as well or as close to carbon.
 

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Wind, Life, Eternity
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We know all the elements with low atomic number and silicon is the one with the highest possibility. All the "unknown" elements are too heavy to be stable (they are radioactive) so probably can't support life.
 

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The seeker of perfection
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I have always wondered about this:
Is life a natural evolution of the universe? The way galaxies/planets/minerals/atoms are created is following a kind of principle and one is formed after the other in a perfect/chaotic order but it comprises of inanimated objects. When/why the universe need living organism? Just to make sure they mantain an equilibrium in the amount of minerals/elements?

Just wondering why and please, please, just this time, please, don't answer with something religion based.....
 

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Kazuya Mishima said:
I have always wondered about this:
Is life a natural evolution of the universe? The way galaxies/planets/minerals/atoms are created is following a kind of principle and one is formed after the other in a perfect/chaotic order but it comprises of inanimated objects. When/why the universe need living organism? Just to make sure they mantain an equilibrium in the amount of minerals/elements?

Just wondering why and please, please, just this time, please, don't answer with something religion based.....
There's no kind of purpose for life. No purpose at all. Yet, life has arisen in the universe nonetheless. But why?

Forget theology or teleology, they'll give you tautologies for answers. The universe doesn't need anything at all. If there's anything in the universe, it's because natural laws allowed it.
You've to think about life in terms of replicators. Think about some of the simplest replicators we have in our biosphere currently. Let's talk about bacteria. What makes you say that they're alive, while rocks are not? There're multiple answers to this question, but I'll focus on the answer that I'm most interested in. Bacteria are able to reproduce. And not only they reproduce, but their populations evolve over time.

Now you know what a replicator is. Humans are replicators, just like bacteria are. But let us think about the simplest replicators possible. Let's talk about replicating molecules.

Imagine the Earth in it's primeval state, four billion years ago. There was no life at all on it. So, there were a lot of aminoacids and minerals floating around on the first oceans. Now imagine that by simple accident, a simple combination of molecules created a compound able to make copies of itself (this is not farfetched - just look at our modern DNA. You can certainly imagine a much simpler mechanisms). Once a replicator has arisen, natural selection will make sure that the fittest leave more descendants, thus starting the long dance of evolution (after four billion years of dancing, mankind arrived on good ol' Earth).

I don't have a lot of time to explain evolution now, but I hope you have understood why the arrival of life does not require any purpose at all. Just mere chance, given enough time, can do the job. We just need a molecule able of making copies of itself. The rest of the job (creating all the variety in life that we see today) is done by evolution, over the course of a few billion years. If you want to read an interesting (and online :) )text on the workings of evolution (and the logics behind it), read Eliezer Yudkowksy's The Story of a Blob (it's worth your time, I assure you).
 

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Boltzmann said:
There's no kind of purpose for life. No purpose at all. But life had arisen in the universe nonetheless. But why?
I always like it when people agree that although there is reason, there is no purpose. :) A lot of people find it hard to differientate between the two. ;P
 

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klatch said:
I always like it when people agree that although there is reason, there is no purpose. :) A lot of people find it hard to differientate between the two. ;P
The difference is subtle, but it does exist.

But I find that most people find it hard to differentiate between the two because of anthropomorphic tendencies within the human race. Since we humans usually have a purpose behind our actions (and a conscious mind guiding those actions), we like to ascribe purpose (and consciousness) to the universe in general. It's an untenable position, but it's ubiquitous among pseudoscientists and new-agers in general (The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena can be said to be the epithome of such thinking).
 

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I agree with boltzman on the difference between purpose and reason. But now lets say that there could be silicon based life. Would it not be possible that humans created it in the form of some biomechanical AI?
 

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In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, the monstrous trolls of folklore and J.R.R. Tolkien have been subverted into a moderately civilised race. They are nocturnal, silicon-based creatures, hence the stories of them turning to stone when hit by the sun. Their apparent unintelligence is due to heat affecting the conductivity of their brains. In high mountain areas they can, in certain respects, be quite clever.

Troll society is based on rocks and hitting people. They have numerous gods, all of whom bless their worshippers by hitting them on the head with a rock. In a troll courtship the male troll hits the female troll on the head with a pretty rock. And so on.


Rock and stone is also the natural diet of trolls, and they have diamond teeth to enable this. They can gain some nutrition from the mineral content of carbon-based animals (including humans, although they never do that any more, honest), but not much. The troll language (like dwarfish) has hundreds of words for different kinds of rock. It also has one word that means "vegetation".

Trolls tend to be named after rocks, minerals and geological features.

Trolls and dwarfs have an ongoing feud, ostensibly stemming from one being a race of living rocks, and the other being a race of miners, but really, these days dwarfs hate trolls because trolls hate dwarfs and vice versa.

Troll society is unsophisticated, but some trolls in urban areas such as Ankh-Morpork manage to direct their tendency towards violence in more civilised directions. Many trolls have joined the City Watch, beginning with Sergeant Detritus. Others have found a niche in the opposing profession; there is a troll organised crime family, called the Breccia, led by the "Ton" Chrysophrase.

Trolls are theoretically immortal, but as they get older they get bigger and slower and tend to be more inclined to sit and think. They call this "getting philosophy". Many of the Discworld's mountains are actually very old trolls.
As for life's role in the universe, it is a simple matter of thermodynamics. According to the three laws, there is always a constant flux of enthalpy, order, towards entropy, chaos. Once you reach maximum entropy, you will reach thermodynamic equilibrium. Since that is too damn boring, you need to introduce the random chance of enthalpy formation in order to prolong the eventual totality of entropy. Life is simply a build-up of enthalpy used to buffer the impending end of the universe. :D
 

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<font color="#990000"><b>Lurking</b></font>
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Boltzmann said:
There's no kind of purpose for life. No purpose at all. Yet, life has arisen in the universe nonetheless. But why?
Bold statement, yet I disagree with you. We both have a purpose and a reason for life. IMO, if you can't find why, then look out for the answer. That being said, my phylosophy behind my reasoning comes from a religous background, so lets not get into that.... ( and I mean in it this time, I REALLY won't get into that no matter what :p )

Yours,
-Elly
 

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エッリー said:
Bold statement, yet I disagree with you. We both have a purpose and a reason for life. IMO, if you can't find why, then look out for the answer. That being said, my phylosophy behind my reasoning comes from a religous background, so lets not get into that.... ( and I mean in it this time, I REALLY won't get into that no matter what :p )
Give me strong empirical evidence before I accept your claim about a purpose for life. Religious arguments don't count, so a religious discussion is out of question.

I already expect the answer to be: I've no obligation to give any evidence to you, go look for it yourself.

In this case, I'll tell you that I won't look for anything, because it's unreasonable. Wants to prove me wrong? Give me the [/B]empirical evidence.

If your reply is along the lines of "there's no empirical evidence for it, it's a matter of faith", then I'll say that it's irrelevant, except for religious people...
 

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<font color="#990000"><b>Lurking</b></font>
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Heh, no.

The question here is for what purpose do we exist. You may want to apply evolution as a cause, but it doesn't justify the purpose. As long as you await science to tell you the purpose then you will go nowhere, since it can only explain why it happened. Though ofcourse, if you have no purpose in life, then what is stopping you from holding a gun, pointing it on your head and shoot ? I mean, we have no purpose right? Then why do you continue to exist from the first place? ;)

Point is : for whatever objective/goal you are living for, that is your purpose. Though, whether it IS "THE" intended purpose we are supposed to live with or not is another debate.

Yours,
-Elly
 

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We humans can justifiy our own lives. I don't dispute that. This doesn't mean there's a cosmic purpose behind our lives. Only human purposes, created by humans. And that's good enough for me.

Now, if you believe in cosmic purposes ("THE purpose", as you put it), read my previous post (#16). For me, it's irrelevant. If you disagree, show me the evidence.
 

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エッリー said:
Point is : for whatever objective/goal you are living for, that is your purpose. Though, whether it IS "THE" intended purpose we are supposed to live with or not is another debate.
I thought that was what you were arguing about. The fact that anyone can invent a purpose and live for it kinda goes without saying...
 

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Boltzmann said:
We humans can justifiy our own lives. I don't dispute that. This doesn't mean there's a cosmic purpose behind our lives. Only human purposes, created by humans. And that's good enough for me.

Now, if you believe in cosmic purposes ("THE purpose", as you put it), read my previous post (#16). For me, it's irrelevant. If you disagree, show me the evidence.
I am not trying to propose my belief. Yes, I do believe in a "universal" purpose for everyone of us, but I am not putting it on the table here.

The point was on your previous statement :
Boltzmann said:
There's no kind of purpose for life. No purpose at all. Yet, life has arisen in the universe nonetheless. But why?
Whether that purpose is "cosmical" , "humanly justified" or whatever, it remains a purpose for a life, hence why I think that statement of yours is wrong.

__Xzyx987X said:
I thought that was what you were arguing about. The fact that anyone can invent a purpose and live for it kinda goes without saying...
It's still a purpose, even if it was "invented"....

Yours,
-Elly
 
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