A Tholian in Star Trek: Enterprise
|Moe Point||Silicon-based life|
|Related Moe Points||Alien|
Silicon-based life are a kind of creatures in science fiction.
Silicon-based life is chemical life whose biochemistry is based on silicon rather than carbon.
In some science fiction works, the base element of the alien's body is not carbon but silicon. Hard science fiction works often use "carbon and silicon are elements of the same group" as the reason for this change: non-metallic elements of the IV-A group can form four covalent bonds, so both carbon and silicon atoms can be interconnected to form a variety of complex microstructures.
However, the biochemistry of silicon is very different from that of carbon: replacing carbon in known biomolecules with silicon yields compounds that are too reactive to participate in biochemical reactions. Even the most basic molecule, methylsilane (SiH4), is far more reactive than its carbon-based counterpart, methane (CH4). Moreover, carbon is not abundant in the earth's crust, while silicon is the second most abundant element in the crust; if silicon-based life could have formed, it would have formed on a silicon rich earth (apparently not now).
Chemically, life based on silicates (compounds containing silicon and oxygen) seems to make more sense, since silicates are found in a wide variety of species in nature. However, these species either have to survive at temperatures that can melt glass or move very slowly (basically, they are creatures made of stone). Silicate-based life forms are certainly more non-human than humanoid creatures.
Many authors are enthusiastic about the possibility of such "other element-based life"; some authors also replace carbon with other elements that are not in the IV-A group.
Silicon-based life in ACG
- Star Trek: The Tholians.
- Ben 10: Both Diamondhead and Chromastone are silicon-based beings from the same planet.
- The Rural Teacher: There are two major forces on the scene, the carbon-based federation and the silicon-based empire, with the silicon-based empire composed of silicon-based lifeforms.
- Stellaris: The stony creature pack in the update. These creatures need minerals to sustain life. Also, they can be used as livestock to produce minerals.