Exotic Chemical Life

  • Ronald D. Brown
Conference paper
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 144)


For a long lime now there has been an almost universal assumption that life in the universe has to be based on carbon chemistry. The only notable modern exception appears to be that of Cairns-Smith (1982, 1985) who has eloquently espoused the case for starting life with silicate clays, there being a subsequent genetic takeover in favour of carbon compounds. However in the past there have been speculations, albeit superficial by modern standards, of extra-terrestrial life based on other chemical elements. Let me attempt to review the situation through more modern eyes.


Carbon Chemistry Hydrogen Cyanide Hydrogen Fluoride Terrestrial Life Crystal Gene 
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  1. Brown, R. D. and Rice, E. H. N., Mon. Not. R. astron. Soc., 1986 223, 405.ADSGoogle Scholar
  2. Cairns-Smith, A. G., Genetic Takeover and the Mineral Origins of Life, C. U. P., 1982.Google Scholar
  3. Cairns-Smith, A. G., Sci. Amer., 1985 (June), 252, 74.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald D. Brown
    • 1
  1. 1.Chemistry DepartmentMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia

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