Science: Waterless Life

Could life evolve on planets unlike the earth — say on a completely waterless world? Experiments performed by Goesta Wollin and David B. Ericson of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory suggest that it could indeed, although without water any organisms would probably be totally unrecognizable.

Wollin and Ericson mixed the molecules of gases recently detected in the far reaches of space — ammonia, methanol, formaldehyde and formic acid — in various combinations. Then, keeping the gases completely free of water, the scientists exposed them to ultraviolet radiation and found that they combined to...

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