It’s a dusty life

Just a link to a new article with the title: From plasma crystals and helical structures towards inorganic living matter by V N Tsytovich, G E Morfill, V E Fortov, N G Gusein-Zade, B A Klumov and S V Vladimirov, which appeared in the open access journal “New Journal of Physics”. Among others the authors looked at molecular dynamics simulations of dust grains (“a dust cloud”) in plasma (details: Coulomb interaction with overscreening potential + “Grain motions are damped by friction (to model viscosity of plasma neutral component) and stochastically accelerated by Langevin force”).

In particular the dust grains (which are charged within the plasma) can e.g. assume the shape of a double helix. The authors investigated in how far these shapes and their behaviour can be compared to organic DNA-like behaviour. From the abstract:

“Complex plasmas may naturally self-organize themselves into stable interacting helical structures that exhibit features normally attributed to organic living matter. The self-organization is based on non-trivial physical mechanisms of plasma interactions involving over-screening of plasma polarization.
It is concluded that complex self-organized plasma structures exhibit all the necessary properties to qualify them as candidates for inorganic living matter that may exist in space provided certain conditions allow them to evolve naturally.”

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