Dynamic dust

It seems like another one of those amazing things scientists seem to discover as they tramp about the universe.  An international group of sciencists from Russia, Germany, and Australia have found that galactic dust can form into helixes and double helixes that can reproduce themselves in the manner of living organisms.  They’ve seen it happen in two places – a laboratory in Germany with zero-gravity conditions, and on the International Space Station above Earth.

But what is so astonishing about their observation is that the dust they observed is inorganic – that is, not made of the carbon, oxygen and hydrogen of which all living things on Earth are made.

Ever since Galileo shook Western thought to its roots with evidence that Earth was not the centre of the universe but instead revolved around the sun, science has continued to come up with evidence that we are not the centre of all things that we thought we were. 

The implications of the possibility of non-organic life whizzing around out there are not clear.  Will we have to redefine life?  Should we start looking for extra-terrestial life in quite a different guise than the one we have been expecting?  Will this lead to new explorations of the nature of disease and medicine and replacement limbs?

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About Terry Sissons

Terry Sissons is the author of The Big Bang to Now: All of Time in Six Chunks, and this blog is a dialogue about the universe and what’s happened in the last 13 billions years.
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