Scientists have discovered metals capable of self-sustaining chemical reactions, opening up new possibilities for the emergence of life in the Universe. These metallic aliens , similar to the radioactive Transformers from the popular franchise, could become a reality.
The basis of life on Earth is organic compounds, but researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA) wondered: could alien life develop from completely different chemical elements, for example, from metals? It turned out that yes. Autocatalysis, a key process for life on Earth, can exist using a variety of elements other than carbon.
A study conducted by scientists has shown that life on other worlds does not necessarily have to come from organic carbon, as is the case with humans. They discovered that metals such as mercury and thorium can multiply under certain conditions.
The study examined scientific documents from the last 200 years and found 270 different autocatalysis cycles, many of which did not use organic compounds. Some cycles are centered around elements completely absent from life on Earth, such as mercury and thorium. Moreover, some reactions occur at extreme temperatures and pressures, giving hope that such conditions may exist on other planets.
Researchers hope that future studies will confirm this theory and help find alien life. This discovery has enormous implications not only for science, but also for practical applications, including the efficient use of resources and energy.
Astrobiologist, bacteriologist and evolutionary biologist Betül Kaçar from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA) sums up: “It is important to explore these possibilities so that we have an idea of what all forms of life, not just terrestrial life, might look like. Life may catalyze the creation of more life, and it may be much more diverse than we ever imagined.”
Scientists hope that future research will confirm their theories and help expand our understanding of the diversity of life in the Universe.