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[MNN] Scientist creates lifelike cells out of metal - Page 2

post #11 of 27
Quote:
Well one of the defining characteristics of life is the ability to replicate and pass on information to future generations (ie evolve).

Unfortunately I'm not sure Cronin (author of the study) has a viable solution for that problem.

The reason why life on earth is carbon based is because carbon is capable of creating 4 bonds, a very important distinction that allows it to form complex molecules and chains(like DNA and RNA) which are essential to life. Elements with fewer valence electrons (ie can make fewer than 4 bonds) typically are only capable of forming crystals and not complex molecules.

The generally considered alternative to carbon life is silicon, which also can make 4 bonds. However it also tends to prefer crystal lattices rather than chains. It's also a much heavier elements and harder to utilize in reactions.

The main reason most scientists consider these two as the only likely is that complex molecules and chains are considered essential for life as you can't really contain information in a crystal structure (you can easily make walls and bubbles though, which is what Cronin did).

To date, no one has figured out a way to create complex molecules using elements without 4 valence electrons, or figured out a way to contain information in non-complex molecules. Doesn't mean it's impossible, but nothing we know suggests it's possible.


You haven't really considered the sulphur based lifeforms found in deep sea sulphur vents. Their DNA and rNA is based on sulphur atoms with 6 valence electrons. Also consider it is possible to create transition metals with more than 2 valence electrons, whilst they are in different transition states in certain environments.
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post #12 of 27
This is pretty neat...

I just watched The Transcendent Man with the futurist Ray Kurzweil...

Pretty interesting stuff, and fits in nicely with this. He could be right.
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post #13 of 27
Quote:
calls the resultant cell-like structures "inorganic chemical cells," or iCHELLs

Dear Apple, have fun.
post #14 of 27
He's one step closer to making his own Allspark.
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post #15 of 27
"Even more remarkable, Cronin has hinted that the metal-based cells may be replicating themselves and evolving". iRobot is in our future
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post #16 of 27
Not so much becoming a terminator esc doom of mankind... but think about self repairing armor, self repairing vehicles, replenishing ammunition, self building structures. Fascinating.
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post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skaterboydale View Post

You haven't really considered the sulphur based lifeforms found in deep sea sulphur vents. Their DNA and rNA is based on sulphur atoms with 6 valence electrons. Also consider it is possible to create transition metals with more than 2 valence electrons, whilst they are in different transition states in certain environments.

You're confusing source of energy for metabolic pathway vs structure. Carbon based =/= carbon using/metabolizing. Sulfur based =/= sulfur using/metabolizing.

There are organisms that can grow on and use sulfur or even arsenic as an energy source. Some even replace phosphate or non bridging oxygen in their DNA/RNA with sulfur. However, these are carbon based life forms based on the simple fact that all their complex molecules are still built on a carbon backbone. DNA and RNA by definition are composed of a carbon backbone, so anything with it MUST be carbon based.
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post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skaterboydale View Post

You haven't really considered the sulphur based lifeforms found in deep sea sulphur vents. Their DNA and rNA is based on sulphur atoms with 6 valence electrons.

Um, what? There are no such things as sulfur-based lifeforms, at least on this planet. Bacteria around deep sea vents metabolize sulfur compounds, but definitely do not have an alternate DNA structure that uses sulfur (at least completely)*

* http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/85/i43/8543notw6.html

Even then, that use of sulfur in the backbone is not an alternative to using carbon, because it replaces an oxygen.
Edited by aroc91 - 1/6/12 at 11:43am
    
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post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by AtomicFrost View Post

It doesn't really seem that he has actually created anything that is really living. All of the examples in the article make it sound more like he has created metal cells that mimic living cells. From how it's described in the article it sounds like he has really only made really small models of a living cell.
Just because the iCHELLs he made do mimic some functions that real living cells can preform, but that doesn't make them living.

^exactly what I was thinking...
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post #20 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by _Chimera View Post

Quote:
calls the resultant cell-like structures "inorganic chemical cells," or iCHELLs

Dear Apple, have fun.

lol
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