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Alternate Biochemistry  XML
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jwmd2

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Arsenic... Now that would be an insanely heavy creature. Maybe you could find it on a planet with weak gravity, since the mass is so high. Silicon is possible, but I imagine it would look crystaline. In fact, we might not even be able to call it life.
Those three elements belong to the same group. These elements are capable of quadruple bonds, meaning they can link together to up to 4 other atoms. Also, the ability to link in chains is extremely important, considering fatty acids (lipids or fats), amino acids (protein), nucleic acids (DNA, RNA), and Carbs (sugars) are all necessary for life on earth as we know it, there would have to be other things similar to those. Considering proteins alone can stretch into two-thousand sequenced amino acid chains, I don;t think the luck of the draw has much affect in here.
With those odds, I'd wager that any extraterrestrial life would be carbon based. Molecular weights have a lot to do with why we don't see any heavier creatures on earth (ie silicon).
This is all information covered in Freshmen Anatomy at my college, by the way.

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Archereon

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jwmd2 wrote:Arsenic... Now that would be an insanely heavy creature. Maybe you could find it on a planet with weak gravity, since the mass is so high. Silicon is possible, but I imagine it would look crystaline. In fact, we might not even be able to call it life.
Those three elements belong to the same group. These elements are capable of quadruple bonds, meaning they can link together to up to 4 other atoms. Also, the ability to link in chains is extremely important, considering fatty acids (lipids or fats), amino acids (protein), nucleic acids (DNA, RNA), and Carbs (sugars) are all necessary for life on earth as we know it, there would have to be other things similar to those. Considering proteins alone can stretch into two-thousand sequenced amino acid chains, I don;t think the luck of the draw has much affect in here.
With those odds, I'd wager that any extraterrestrial life would be carbon based. Molecular weights have a lot to do with why we don't see any heavier creatures on earth (ie silicon).
This is all information covered in Freshmen Anatomy at my college, by the way.


Silicon life would most likely work well in a sulfuric acid rich environment, and, if the planet had similar gravity to earth, life would probably be smaller there than it is here.

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jwmd2

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@Archeron, I appreciate your add-on. I didn't know any of that, so if it makes it more likely, so be it. I just think that, If there was actually silicon-based life out there, we wouldn't be able to define it as life (at least with the current definition). For anything on earth to be alive, it has to respond to stimulus, reproduce, grow (in size), develop with time (change proportions of body parts), have some form of metabolism and some organization (specialized parts). We might not be able to see organs differentiated from the rest of its parts. I Imagine, like before, that most silicon compounds would share the same crystal appearance, making some of the other traits a little difficult to notice specialized parts or even development of new parts over time. That is what I was meaning: what may be life to us may not describe all life.
Another note is that arsenic interrupt the exchange and use of ATP, meaning the analogue to our muscles wouldn't be able to move if there happened to be free arsenic molecules roaming through their body. So, Arsenic creatures would be poison to their own energy supply. And, if I'm not mistakes, all life on earth uses ATP for energy storage, so "life" would be different once again.

I apologize if I come out sounding like I'm talking above my knowledge; I really am. I am not a biochemist, nor do I ever hope to be one. These are just some thoughts I came up with on the subject.

By the way, if not for the heat, Venus would make an ideal location for your creatures, huh?

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sonvar

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I assume if you change the mode and workings of biological mechanicisms you can have any variance of chemical composision.
One example is to have some form of a sulfur based lifeform. Sulfur does not form as complex chains as carbon or silicon does, but it does create rings that can be fairly complex. Selenium also forms complex rings in polymer chains. If you suplement these rings with an transitional molecule of some sort to form chains complex enough to provide some basic function of life. If the biomechinisms are changed the nessessity for complex protiens might not be required if the organism contains a multitude of control chains, it could serve the function of some form of DNA/RNA.
Another way to support having something other than basic biological functions is to change the function of metabolism. Instead of chemical interaction of complex carbohydrates and oxygen for energy, it can use a complex molecule chain in a different way for energy. An example would be simple or complex hydrocarbons, of a chemical mechanicism to break up alkaline to be used for its volitile reaction in water as an energy source. You can also fall back to the simple mode of energy production of basic photosynthisis. There are many ways to produce energy by merely absorbing the energy around the organism.
Im probably just reitterating something many other people have said, but you can use almost any atomic element as a base for an organism and it might work. the only things you really need is some form of energy absorption or production, and it needs to be able to replicate its self. Most basic forms that this happens in nature that we have observed are, of course, carbon based life and growing crystals.
As long as the chemistry is right, life will use what ever resources it has at hand and grow to fill its environment.
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sonvar

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Another way to change the biochemistry is changing the mode of resporation. One change is to change the medium. One medium that would be possible is chlorine, or other possible halogen element. Granted chlorine resides mostly in the forms of salts on our own planet, but if the temperatures were hot enough to break the ionic bonds with alkalines to make it free to form a gasous state, it would work. These high temperatures would also allow Silicon dioxide to become soluable, allowing for silicon or silicone (better form of the element to use) life possible. Of course this would be too hot for liquid water to form, so a different liquid medium would be nessessary. Or at a bit lower temperatures SiCl4 could be used as a exhaulation material. An atmosphere made up of compounds Hydrogen sulfide, SO2, sulfiric asid, Cl2, hydro chloride and SiCl4 could allow for any varience of silicone life forms.
Another medium is sulfur of various forms, which occures here on Earth.
To allow phosphorus - nitrogen based life you would need an atmosphere of a nitrogen based compound such as NO2 or NH4. This type of life can accomidate a lower planetary temperature. At these temperatures ammonia (NH3) can form the atmosphere and can easily be converted to a useable molecule NH4, which can be used as a fluid medium at temperatures too cold for liquid water. At very low temperatures (<-33*F, gasous NH3) the creature can do a direct fluid exchange with liquid nitrogen based elements. It doesnt need to waist energy breathing, just exchange waist material while intaking nessessary elements for resporation and energy intake. this would exist in a liquid/ semi liquid environment.
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