Silicon Based Life forms????

Jessica Kao Jessica_Kao at
Tue Apr 8 12:37:46 EST 1997

rchapman at,News3 writes:
> What if life forms were silicon based rather than carbon bases? Silicon
>is much more abundant on earth than carbon its atoms can bond to 4 other
>atoms.  Bonds between silicon are unstable in the presence of 02 but
>bonds between silicon and oxygen are extremely stable and difficult to
>break. I was wondering what implications would these properties have for
>these life forms.
>                            Please reply by April 7, but if you cant its
>no problem.
>                             Thanks, Justin

Problem is that silicon contrary to carbon does not form
linear chains and structures like double helix won't work
as easily on Si as on Carbon. However, there is a significant 
literature (mostly speculative) of alternative lifeforms, 
to begin with D.Goldsmith and T.Owen, The Search for Life 
in the Universe, Menlo Park, 1980.  

Dear Justin,
Ironically D. Goldsmith is my Organic Professor and we had talked about
this issue in class.  I believe it has something to do with the size of
the Silicon atom compared to Carbon.  Because Si has one more shell of
electrons it is significantly larger.  It is speculated that there does
exist silicon based life form in the bottom of the ocean but that is
still being researched.  

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