Silicon-based life, that staple of science fiction, may not be likely after all
Dirk Schulze-Makuch | Air & Space Magazine
Saturday, June 20, 2020
The possibility of silicon-based life is one that interests MIT researchers Janusz Petkowski, Sara Seager, and William Bains. Does a world out of Star Trek exist, or does life have to be carbon?
In the past, they've looked into potential alternative biochemistries on other planets, and now, in a new paper published in the journal Life, they expound on the element's potential for the basis of life.
"The authors have put together a very elaborate and detailed treatise on the topic—a must-read if you’re interested in ideas about extreme life," writes Dirk Schulze-Makuch is a Professor at the Technical University Berlin, Germany for Air & Space Magazine. "Not only do they provide a comparison of the chemical reactivity of carbon and silicon, they offer many amazing examples of how silicon is used by life on Earth and what type of silicon compounds exist in our own environment."
While the scientists find that the prospects for silicon life don't look great, there are many fascinating theoretical examples of places that could support organosilicon chemistry.