Monday, August 3, 2009

The Case Of The Nanodiamond Meteorite

Science-y and slightly related to cyborgs and technology, is the question of nano-diamond meteorites.  It occurs to me that this is one of those things I read when it happened, and didn't bat an eyelid.  But leave it to 2AM and having just laid down to get to sleep, for a bit of e revelation to make itself felt...

It's composed of various forms of carbon.  Out there in space, according to the second page of that same article, is a fairly large chunk of carbon which that meteorite was probably once a part of.  And carbon is a prerequisite for life. (Life as we carbon-based lifeforms know it, at any rate.)   I also get this impression that pretty much every piece of carbon I've ever seen was part of a living creature at some stage.  Like, there's no such thing as a "carbon rock" that I'm aware of.

Coal is a carbon rock but it is formed from decomposed and compressed living creatures.  Diamonds are compressed coals.  Every bit of carbon I've ever seen in my life and travels was alive and kicking at some stage in its lifecycle.

What are the odds that all the carbon in space is just inorganic in origin, given our experience here on Earth is so vastly different?  Which means that perhaps there is a good reason for presuming the existence of a lot of other life forms in the rest of the Universe.

And that takes me to a random thought about electronic/mechanical life, which we're on the brink of creating, and which is going to be based on silicon and other materials that we don't consider a building block of life, and which (as far as we can tell) were never part of a living thing the way carbon was.

Maybe that's going to be one of the bases of a definition of life?  That "life" has to be able to recycle it's own elements and molecules, over and over?

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