DNA-Shaped Dust In Plasma May 'Live'
A new computer simulation shows that dust immersed in ionized gas can organize itself into DNA-like double helixes. These dust structures can behave in many respects like living organisms.
The dust helixes can store information; the scaffolding of their 'bodies' can have two stable states - with different size diameters. That way, a spiral can contain sets of wide and narrow sections.
It appears that the specific order of these sections can be copied from one dust spiral to another, like a genetic code. The researchers aren't sure how it happens, but they think each narrow section of spiral creates a permanent vortex of moving dust outside it. So if another spiral drifts alongside it, that vortex pinches the same length into its narrow state.
Scientists probably wouldn't classify it as "living" - hurricanes are similarly self-organizing systems, but you wouldn't call them "alive."
The team of scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, are now looking for these structures in nature. One possible place to look is in the rings of Saturn; the dust particles would be fine ice grains and the plasma supplied by the solar wind.
(Closest image of Saturn ring structure [NASA Cassini])
The "life-processes" of these dust-grain structures would run about a hundred thousand times slower than those found in the biochemistry of the creatures of Earth.
Science fiction fans have already had a taste of this idea. In his 1957 story The Black Cloud, an enormous space cloud seems to threaten the Earth. See a related story Magnetic Fields Found To Shape Planetary Nebulae.
Another fascinating example of celestial phenomena exhibiting life-like properties is the solar "tadpoles" found in solar flares; read more about Solar Tadpoles.
Read more at Hot Gas in Space Mimics Life and Could alien life exist in the form of DNA-shaped dust?. Thanks to reader Misja van Laatum for the tip on this story.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/15/2007)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )
Related News Stories -
A.I. Jesus Proclaims Machine Gospel
'... he crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth; inside he put a dime into the slot and dialed at random.' - Philip K. Dick, 1969.
Tesla Autopilot: What Does An Autonomous Car See When It Looks At The Road?
'Jeremiah is a sports-model to begin with and that kind is awfully hot-tempered.' - Isaac Asimov, 1953.
Blurry Face Photos Made 60 Times Sharper
Perfect tool for blade runners.
Clarke Was Right, Artificial Intelligences DO Dream
'Of course you will dream. No one knows why." - Arthur C. Clarke, 1984.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Jet-Powered Flying Suits Tested By Navy
'With his motor in operation, he moves like a diver, head foremost...'
Pub Installs Electrified Fence Around Bar
'I start twelve immensely strong wires--naked, not insulated --from a big dynamo...'
What Does A Tesla Full Self-Driving Car See?
'All objects within my panoramic gaze trembled and vibrated like quick motion pictures...'
BioVYZR Is Ready, Anti-Covid19 PAPR Lovers
'Some clad in the insulated space-suits, with their transparent glassite helmets.'
Tesla Will Have Metal Gear Snake Autocoupler, Musk Confirms
'Its motion was so swift, complex, and perfect that at first I did not see it as a machine, in spite of its metallic glitter.'
Starlink Satellites Leading Edge On-Orbit Debris Mitigation
Propulsion-assisted orbital decay, brought to you by SpaceX.
Healight Ultraviolet Endotracheal Device Has Covid-19 Treatment Potential
'He applied the tip of the instrument to the interior of the wound...'
Parents Use AI To See One Last Message From Their Deceased Son
'...what's to keep me from showing face, Man?'
Satoshi Tomizu Creates Pocket Universes And Worldcraft Bubbles In Glass
'The Worldcraft bubble glittered, catching the light...'
Space Hero Inc. Offers Trip To ISS As Reality Show Prize
'This is Elmer Schmitz, presenting to you the finalists in our Aviation Quiz Program...'
I Love Ceiling-Mounted Robots
'Immediately an enormous apparatus fell on to her out of the ceiling...'
Armano Remote Control Excavator
'The bulldozer moved through the... mine... '
OK, NASA 3D Printer Of Food Not Yet Star Trek Food Synthesizer
Maybe not, but we're seeing definite progress.
Kelly Clarkson Show Like Black Mirror '15 Million Merits'
'These people are pieces of software called avatars.'
Salto Jumping Robot Now Sticks Landing!
'Lucky touched the leap knob and the hopper's leg retracted.'
Gyroscopic Median-Straddling Mass Transit Vehicles
'It was among these leviathans that the little gyrocar was daring to thrust its puny self...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories