Lee Cronin: ‘Aliens could be made from iron’

By | August 30, 2011

Lee Cronin in his lab… Even a few decades ago, scientists thought that life was incredibly difficult to assemble from nothing and that we were a once-in-a-universe achievement. But actually I think, and I am not alone in this thought, that the emergence of life on Earth is as probable as the emergence of life elsewhere. And so there are many life-forms in the universe but on Earth we are constrained by our bias of carbon and organic chemistry because organic chemistry works brilliantly here. If we were able to prove our assertion that biology is a general phenomenon, not just based on the organic, then we know there is probably other life in the universe.

What I am saying is that all universes can come alive, they just do it in different ways. And in fact in this universe there will be life based on iron or silicon — we just can’t conceive of it.

…We are starting to make inorganic cells in my lab that can start to encapsulate complex chemical reactions. What we are trying to do at the moment is make those cells replicate and basically evolve to establish inorganic biology in the laboratory …

Darwin observed evolution in biology, but how do we observe evolution outside biology? I am willing to bet that there were some non-biological life-forms present on Earth. They just didn’t get very far because biology was so good, it took all the available resources and did its own thing. However, I think that examples of inorganic biology do exist somewhere in our universe. If I am right, then the universe is wired to become alive through evolution and this is a general property of all matter in the universe.

via Lee Cronin: ‘Aliens could be made from iron’ | Technology | The Observer.

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