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Dust 'comes Alive' In Space


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Dust 'comes alive' in space Robert Booth




SCIENTISTS have discovered that inorganic material can take on the

characteristics of living organisms in space, a development that could

transform views of alien life.


An international panel from the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Max

Planck institute in Germany and the University of Sydney found that

galactic dust could form spontaneously into helixes and double helixes

and that the inorganic creations had memory and the power to reproduce



A similar rethinking of prospective alien life is being undertaken by

the National Research Council, an advisory body to the US government.

It says Nasa should start a search for what it describes as "weird

life" - organisms that lack DNA or other molecules found in life on



The new research, to be published this week in the New Journal of

Physics, found nonorganic dust, when held in the form of plasma in

zero gravity, formed the helical structures found in DNA. The

particles are held together by electromagnetic forces that the

scientists say could contain a code comparable to the genetic

information held in organic matter. It appeared that this code could

be transferred to the next generation.


Professor Greg Morfill, of the Max Planck institute of

extra-terrestrial physics, said: "Going by our current narrow

definitions of what life is, it qualifies.


"The question now is to see if it can evolve to become intelligent.

It's a little bit like science fiction at the moment. The potential

level of complexity we are looking at is of an amoeba or a plant.


"I do not believe that the systems we are talking about are life as

we know it. We need to define the criteria for what we think of as

life much more clearly."


It may be that science is starting to study territory already

explored by science fiction. The television series The X-Files, for

example, has featured life in the form of a silicon-based parasitic



The Max Planck experiments were conducted in zero gravity conditions

in Germany and on the International Space Station 200 miles above



The findings have provoked speculation that the helix could be a

common structure that underpins all life, organic and nonorganic.

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Nice find... it goes nicely with my theory that life is pandemic in the universe... it can't not happen :)

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