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Mon Feb 4, 2013, 05:50 PM

Scientists Have Created Crystals That Are Almost Alive


Eric Limer
Man-made life is a thing of fiction, relegated to things like Frankenstein. But scientists are coming close to something almost like it. New light-affected crystals developed by scientists at New York University are very close to being alive, so close it makes you question what "being alive" really means.

The crystals are microscopic cubes of hematite that can conduct electricity under certain wavelengths of blue light. As a result, when they're in a hydrogen peroxide soup, the right light can make them swim around, merging into larger crystals, breaking apart, and doing it all again. And then, when the light goes out, they stop.

Paul Chaikin, one of the authors of the paper recently published in Science, notes that this gives the little things metabolism and mobility, two of the criteria required to be considered "alive." They just happen to lack the ability to reproduce, for now.

more
http://gizmodo.com/5981157/scientists-come-close-to-creating-life-with-almost+living-crystals

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Reply Scientists Have Created Crystals That Are Almost Alive (Original post)
n2doc Feb 2013 OP
Sekhmets Daughter Feb 2013 #1
Buzz Clik Feb 2013 #2
rug Feb 2013 #3
FirstLight Feb 2013 #4
tridim Feb 2013 #5
kestrel91316 Feb 2013 #6
BlueJazz Feb 2013 #7
longship Feb 2013 #8
eppur_se_muova Feb 2013 #9

Response to n2doc (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 05:56 PM

1. Fascinating

how they break part when the light is turned off.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 05:57 PM

2. Very cool. Fe-based life forms?

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:00 PM

3. The article it links to has an interesting measure of life.

Chaikin notes that life is difficult to define, but can be said to possess metabolism, mobility, and the ability to self-replicate. His crystals have the first two, but not the last.


What I remember from high school biology are five traits:

Ingestion
Elimination
Respiration
Irritation
Reproduction

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:05 PM

4. very trippy

i like the way they go from 'order' to 'chaos'...

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:06 PM

5. Mind nicely blown. Thx!

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:06 PM

6. Net on the agenda: Ice-9

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 06:24 PM

7. Cool...that's like the star-trek episode with the little sand life-things. >

Hello--ugly--bags--of--mostly--water

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Response to BlueJazz (Reply #7)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 07:43 PM

8. Nope, it's the Andromeda Strain!

Remember?

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 09:36 PM

9. Ummm ... no they haven't.

Organisms preserve local order (negentropy) at the expense of disorder (entropy) in the environment.

This is a much more effective definition than the 'laundry list' approach of listing various processes. And these crystals don't appear to preserve their structure except by chance. Overinterpretative science journalism strikes again.

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