The Science of The Callisto Incident
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Living clay? I know it sounds like science fiction, but it has been seriously proposed that clay could have been a precursor to life itself. Crystals in the clay can reproduce itself as the clay grows. Imperfections in the crystal are "passed on" (copied) to future "generations" (new layers), with the potential for "mutations" (mistakes in the layer). Is this life? Not really, but perhaps these are sufficient conditions for natural selection to start creating complex patterns in the clay. [See Graham Cairns-Smith's book, Seven Clues to the Origin of Life] Once these complex patterns are developed, the complex clays might act as templates for organic life. After all, clay can both create, harbor, and link together amino acids and nucleotides! This is somewhat speculative, but still a serious contender in the different theories of life's origins -- not quite as "fringe" as it sounds in the story.