Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Is this life?

Lee Cronin of the University of Glasgow thinks it's close. He's developed iCHELLS, small bubbles based on "large polyoxometalates derived from a range of metal atoms, like tungsten" that duplicate some functions of life, like letting in "nourishment" and maybe, soon, evolution in response to their environment.  Oh, and a kind of photosynthesis is in the early, but promising, stages. 
COMMENT: Life? No.  What he's created, to me, is more of a micro-robot that functions by aping some life processes.  And evolution by itself is something many software programs have demonstrated.  But that's not to knock the rather fascinating experiments going on here.  I wonder if these bubble cells, tweaked for different environments, can be used in an adaptive swarm to explore or, eventually, terraform other bodies like asteroids.

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