Efoods Global Distributor, Author - One Million A.D., The Story of Civilization 1,000,000 Years From Now

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When or if life is found on other planets, isn't it possible that the coding for life, the DNA, would be the same or similar to our own?

I believe that the code of life found in all living things on Earth will be a similar code to that found in any life found anywhere else in the universe. This theory cannot be proven until the day we finally discover life on another planet, somewhere in the not so distant future perhaps. However, if you look at the way a computer is coded from a basic language, a machine code and then layered upwards by more and more sophisticated and detailed coding, you have perhaps the same model for coding for all life in the universe. Our own evolution may come to be seen as part of a basic language for coding life far more advanced than what we have reached at this point. Future discoveries of life elsewhere may be able to give us this insight.

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    Sky F

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    Apr 27 2011: I actually just had my final in DNA biochemistry today. Hahaha. Yay!

    I believe all (well, most when seeing Nafissa's post) life on earth share DNA in common by simple fact that it is what we all share from our very very distant common ancestors.

    However, I believe DNA is just the happenstance structure that ended up working best when protobionts were floating around until they eventually created replicable genetic information. I believe it's possible that it just so happened to be DNA and as such it's THE language and everything is relative to it. As a planet, we only needed to form one means of replicating genetic information. Once that occurred, life exploded and evolution was underway, and there were no longer any ALMOST-cells floating around waiting for a means to replication.

    With that said, I don't think DNA is the only means of replication possible. I believe if alien life was discovered, it would be similar, but likely not in any way interchangeable with DNA.

    The analogy I imagine is that different life forms on Earth are like the differences between Spanish and English. They are completely different languages (or organisms) but there are some words that sound similar, in addition we all use the same phonetic language (with subtle changes.) In this analogy, I imagine an alien molecule for genetic information would be analogous to Chinese. It serves the same purpose as English and Spanish, in the same way (written script), however it does so in a way that uses subtle sounds native English speakers aren't even able to identify, translations that I'd imagine wouldn't be direct translations, grammar that completely different (maybe I'm thinking of Japanese? or maybe I'm still right, I'm not quite sure.)

    Point is, I think it's chemically possible to have a different-but-similar coding mechanism as DNA, and that it would likely produce proteins as well, however these proteins would only be able to react relatively within organisms of its same planet.
  • Apr 27 2011: There may be the possibility that the DNA structure is the same, but then again, there is also a more convincing chance that it will be different. The DNA structure depends on a lot of things. For example, small variations in temperature or significant variations in acidity could cause the helical structure to curl into itself a bit more, or become more loosely held. This is because of the hydrogen bonding, which depends on the acidity and the temperature. The structure of the DNA is something extremely complicated and environmentally determined, and for a theoretical physics student such as myself, I for one am more interested in the role that quantum mechanics plays in the structure of the DNA.

    There are DNA samples of creatures here on Earth which vary significantly from our DNA. So there is no hard and fast rule that alien life would have similar genetic properties as we do. For all we know, those life forms could be based on Silicon instead of Carbon. I'm just stating the possibilities.
  • May 7 2011: The chances that a meaningful contact with "alien life" is so remote that the question is a waste of time. Further,it appears that debris from asteroid/comet impact with the Earth may contaminate at least local space. And even living things on Earth do not require DNA-see e.g., information on RNA viruses
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    Apr 27 2011: I guess it depends on the abundance of chemicals. If the building blocks of life on other planets are same as ours thenit is possible that the organisms will have the same DNA

    For other potential molecules that can serve the function of DNA there is the arsenic DNA that Nafissa mentioned.

    I guess any kind of molecule that is self replicating and can store a lot of "information" is a good candidate for "alternative" DNA.

    Any molecule that is fairly charismatic is also really awesome in my book.
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    Apr 27 2011: Maybe. It could be that these organisms might have evovled using diffrent chemicals to build DNA chains. Like you said, we can't really know for sure untill we find some actuall alien life.