Chemical Basis of Life
We all know that Carbon-based life exists. Why are so many
people talking about Silicon-based life? Why not Germanium or Lead-based
life? Lead and Germanium are in the same column as carbon and silicon and
may therefore have similar properties.
Carbon is an important element in living organisms because of the electron
structure of its outer ring. If you study the theory of molecule formation, it
becomes apparent that carbon has the potential for combining with many other
elements and in a variety of ways... e.g., carbon with one oxygen or with two
oxygen... CO or CO2.
Because silicon is in the same family on the periodic table, it has similar
characteristics (though it has a larger mass). This combined with the fact
that a large amount of silicon is found in the parts of the universe we have
sampled leads some to consider the possibility that life may have evolved
on silicon in other locations. Remember the sand people in Star Wars? That
was the science part of science fiction.
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Update: June 2012