Physicists have created blobs of gaseous plasma that can grow, replicate and communicate - fulfilling most of the traditional requirements for biological cells. Without inherited material they cannot be described as alive, but the researchers believe these curious spheres may offer a radical new explanation for how life began. Most biologists think living cells arose out of a complex and lengthy evolution of chemicals that took millions of years, beginning with simple molecules through amino acids, primitive proteins and finally forming an organised structure. But if Mircea Sanduloviciu and his colleagues at Cuza University in Romania are right, the theory may have to be completely revised. They say cell-like self-organisation can occur in a few microseconds.The researchers studied environmental conditions similar to those that existed on the Earth before life began, when the planet was enveloped in electric storms that caused ionised gases called plasmas to form in the atmosphere.
They inserted two electrodes into a chamber containing a low-temperature plasma of argon - a gas in which some of the atoms have been split into electrons and charged ions. They applied a high voltage to the electrodes, producing an arc of energy that flew across the gap between them, like a miniature lightning strike.
View: Full Article | Source: New Scientist
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Plasma Blobs Hint at New Form of Life
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