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 |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )

Related News Stories - (" Artificial Intelligence ")

Legal Profession Now Fairly Bristling With AI
'The virtual counsel appeared to be about forty-five years old and prosperous.' - Greg Bear, 2007

Venezuelans Teaching Your Self-Driving Car
‘She wouldn't stop until Antar had told her everything he knew...’ Amitav Ghosh, 1995.

Pun Generation Via Neural Nets
'You said you wanted him to be able to distinguish between laugh-power in different gags...' - William Tenn, 1951.

Can We Comprehend Deep Learning Systems?
'You’ve nothing remotely like it, so I can’t describe it to you.' - Lewis Padgett, 1943.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Orbital Display's Low Earth Orbit Advertisements
'A vast circle of scarlet stars came up into the greenish desert dusk.'

Neuromorphic Computing Hardare
'He had constructed an organ, a brain, of metal, entirely inorganic and lifeless...'

Vascularized Human Skin 3D Printed
Hey Fishboy!

Trillionaires Still Earth-Bound
'I shall never forget the sight... when the yellow gleam of the precious metal appeared under the star dust.'

Digit V2 Bipedal Robot From Agility Robotics
Oh, and now I suppose someone will develop the robotic porch pirate.

3D Printed Dubai Building Is World's Largest
'This thing will start at one end of ...a house and build it complete to the other end, following drawings only.'

Grow Plants On Moon Or Mars!
'In contrast to the airless desolation outside, the interior of this five-acre greenhouse was the one most desirable place to be.'

California Gets Shockwave Rider-Style Avoidance Zones
'It was cheaper to pay the refugees to go without up-to-the-minute equipment.'

Microbot Interstellar von Neumann Explorers
'Evidently they have never had a planet of their own...'

Hail SmartCan! Your Trash Bin Takes Itself Out
'...a waste can twenty feet away stirred into life.'

Finally! Microsoft Surface Neo And Surface Duo Implement Excellent Courier Idea
'Runcible, whose pages were thicker and more densely packed with computational machinery...'

Tap Strap 2 Now With Air Mouse
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.'

Legal Profession Now Fairly Bristling With AI
'The virtual counsel appeared to be about forty-five years old and prosperous.'

Entire Planet Modeled In New MS Flight Sim
'CIC uses [it] to keep track of every bit of spatial information that it owns...'

FlyZoo Robot Hotel By Alibaba
'... hotels that specialized in non-human service.'

Implanted Memories Provide Songs To Birds
Finches can't tell the difference.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.