Illustration for article titled Scientists in Scotland are throwing out the book on carbon-based life

Life as we all know it exists in a purely organic form, the operative word here being "organic." In the chemical and biological context, the term "organic" implies that the molecules comprising life on earth all contain the element carbon.


But now, scientists in Scotland have demonstrated a new way of making inorganic chemical "cells" called iCHELLS — a scientific step that could soon redefine the way we approach everything from evolution to extraterrestrial life.

The team is led by Glasgow University's Lee Cronin. Cronin's scientific approach contradicts that of every carbon chauvanist in the history of science; not only does he believe that inorganic life is possible, he thinks he can create it here on Earth. Cronin describes the implications of his team's work:

What we are trying do is create self-replicating, evolving, inorganic cells that would essentially be alive. You could call it inorganic biology.

The grand aim is to construct complex chemical cells with life-like properties that could help us understand how life emerged and also to use this approach to define a new technology based upon evolution in the material world - a kind of inorganic living technology.

...If successful this would give us some incredible insights into evolution and show that it's not just a biological process. It would also mean that we would have proven that non carbon-based life could exist and totally redefine our ideas of design.


You can read more about Cronin's work over at BBC News.
Top image via BBC News

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