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 -
LawGeex AI Beats 20 Top Lawyers
'The Law Society has strict rules on the use of pseudo-intelligent software - terrified of putting... its members out of work.' - Greg Egan, 1991.
Still Wondering If You'd Work For A Robot Boss?
'This is all coming to you courtesy of the simstim unit wired into your deck, of course.'
CIMON Space Sidekick For Weary Astronauts
I welcome our floating robotic assistants.
Biomind AI Doctor Mops Floor With Human Doctors
'My aim was just not to lose by too much.' - Human Physician participant.
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.
Wound Healing With Wearable Nanogenerators
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to ... erase the other internal-external damage.'
Flying Dragon Robot Transforms In Mid-Air
Terrific prototype video.
Negative Matter Fluid Theorized In New Paper
'Of course, being negative matter, when you push it, it comes toward you..'
Grow Structures Upon Planetfall - Myco-Architecture
'They'll also start pulling in gases and liquids from the local atmosphere...'
MXene Hydrogel Skin For Robots Flexes And Senses
'The plastex swam and whirled like boiling toothpaste...'
EXPLORER, The First Total-Body Scanner
'The object is built up of an infinite series of plane layers, at the focus of the ray...'
UK Police AI To Stop Criminals Before They Strike
'... the computing mechanisms that studied and restructured the incoming material.'
Sonitus Audio Interface Positioned Beyond The Noise
'... an instrument having relatively small bit pieces adapted to be gripped between the teeth.'
Volvo's Self-Driving Mining Trucks
'A procession of automatic ore carts was racing over the bleak slag'
Audi Pop.Up Autonomous Electric Flying Car
'The cab was an egg-shaped bubble of light metals and plastics...'
Music Not Impossible (MNI) Vibrotactile Wearable Experience
Don't you want to experience the 'feely' effects?
Chinese Face Recognition Mistakes Bus Ad For Jaywalker
'... the imprint of her image on the telephoto cell.'
A Look Back At Apollo's Emergency Escape Vehicle
'A simple mechanism... it drove the iron ball through space like a ship.'
InMotion Glide 3 Electric Unicycle For The Last Mile
'...gyro-stabilized on a single wheel.'
China's Social Credit System - A Facebook-1984 Mashup
'Prestige, face, mana, repute, glory: the Sirenese word is strakh.'
Musk Declares Tesla Supercharger Capacity Will Double By Next Year
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories