Questions tagged [biochemistry]

For questions regarding the chemistry of living organisms.

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Would Chlorosian photosynthesizers produce chlorine or oxygen?

Chloros is a world with a huge amount of sulfur. Because sulfates displace halogens in alkali metal salts, fluorine and chlorine in Chloros aren't all locked up in rocks; instead, the oceans are a ...
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2 votes
2 answers
35 views

What should engineered organisms do with excess fluorine?

PFAS (PolyFluorinated Alkyl Substances) are popularly known as "forever chemicals", because they are extremely inert and, being entirely artificial, no natural organism eats them--so, they ...
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Could hypothetical cells use liquid Carbon Tetrafluoride as an alternative solvent to water?

Setting aside how this might evolve or come to be, could a cell use liquid carbon tetrafluoride(CF4 becomes liquid below -130 Celcius) as a solvent instead of water? Assume that the cells work ...
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2 votes
4 answers
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How could hypothetical Fluoride-based cells synthesize methane?

For a thing, I am trying to make a detailed model for fluorine based life, starting with the cell. As an alternative to ATP energy, I have chosen the reaction CH4+(4)F2 ==> CF4+(4)HF, I just can't ...
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2 votes
2 answers
511 views

My creature mixes lye and sal ammoniac to cool its blood. How cold can its blood get before it stops working as blood?

Background information: According to various sources, the human heart pumps 5 liters of blood/minute at rest and 15-20 liters of blood/minute during running or exercise, 6,000 to 7,500 liters of ...
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4 votes
2 answers
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Could stromatolite formation be significantly speeded up?

Stromatolites form at an incredibly slow rate of around 0.5mm a year but I was wondering if more favourable conditions could speed this up? These stromatolites will exist on an earth-like alien planet....
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6 votes
2 answers
118 views

How could mollusks be manipulated to control their shell growth?

I wanted to create an alien species that mostly relies biomaterials and biotechnology and one method of growing hard materials could be controlling the growth of seashells. The alien mollusks will be ...
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1 vote
2 answers
86 views

Would a carbon-based lifeform be able to emerge and live in Venus-like conditions?

I'm trying to make carbon-based alien lifeforms which live in a Venus-like world, where: The temperature is $\pu{650-750 K}$ and the pressure is $\pu{0.9-1.1 MPa}$ Sulfuric acid is abundant Because ...
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2 votes
1 answer
81 views

How does my symbiotic fungus silicify its own cell walls to armor its host's bones?

Fungi have cell walls which - unlike those of plants, which are made out of cellulose, xylan, and lignin - are instead made out of chitin, glucan, and mannans. A fungus I'm planning on writing about ...
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2 votes
2 answers
64 views

Secreting a fast forming, high compression strength material

I am thinking about an alien species that secretes its own biosuit and I am wondering if they can secrete a substance with enough compressive and tensile strength to create strong objects and ...
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5 votes
3 answers
175 views

Anatomically Correct Night Land Monsters

The Night Land features a far future landscape, where the sun has gone out, which is made treacherous by the presence of various non-human "forces" and "powers", and monstrous ...
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9 votes
4 answers
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How to estimate size of ketamin dose to sedate a T. rex.?

To mark the anniversary of our company we have decided to introduce to our VIP guests a once in a lifetime opportunity to get intimate with the dinosaurs, we will put the animal to sleep so the guests ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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silicon based chemosynthesis?

How could chemo-synthesis work with silicon based life? I'm making a project with silicon based aliens,they breathe fluorine instead of oxygen and they breathe out both hydrogen fluoride and silicon ...
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7 votes
7 answers
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Would the loss of intoxication cause a mass withdrawal event?

This is a follow up from my earlier question, in which a virus has wiped out humanity's ability to get intoxicated or high. During the peak of the pandemic, as more and more people lost their ability ...
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23 votes
17 answers
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Will people keep drinking alcoholic drinks even if they don't get intoxicated anymore?

Because a handwave-science-based virus has created a pandemic, humanity in my story has lost the ability to get intoxicated and high. This, however, only affects external causes or intoxication based ...
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2 answers
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How to built a molecular timer into a bioweapon?

Following COVID and having watched far too many zombie movies, I started thinking about an optimal design for a biological weapon. Symptoms wise I believe a modified version of rabies sounds ...
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3 votes
2 answers
102 views

Does anything exist to serve as tissues for my organolithium biology?

The key concept of my storybook world is vast and sweeping incompatibility with all things terrestrial. But that is only the backdrop, it is not my question (before we head out on too many tangents). ...
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9 votes
6 answers
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Could a creature breathe carbon monoxide?

In real life nothing breathes carbon monoxide, but it still binds to the things that are supposed to carry oxygen around the body to my understanding. Could a form of life be able to actually use ...
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3 answers
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Vampiric kiss with effects similar to nitrogen narcosis

My story has vampires in it. Within my story's universe, I want a human kissing one mouth-to-mouth to result in nitrogen narcosis-like symptoms for said human, and for said symptoms to intensify as ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Metabolism In a Reducing Atmosphere

Recently I have been looking for metabolic processes that might emerge on a planet with a reducing atmosphere and have come up empty-handed. There are some other questions out there that have been ...
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3 votes
2 answers
179 views

Metabolic cost of changing the chirality of amino acids and sugars

The aliens in my story have biochemistry that uses amino acids and sugars with chirality opposite to that of terrestrial life. The aliens also have nanites that are capable of changing the chirality ...
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1 answer
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How would Boron-Nitrogen-Based Life Appear at the Scale of Tissues, Proteinoids, or Cells?

I have been struggling recently to find how boron-nitrogen compounds might affect the shape, texture, etc. of lifeforms that utilize it as a base substance. So far I have created precursors to cells, ...
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23 votes
14 answers
5k views

Flashbang grenade that leaves a (radioactive) trace on people?

In a future police state, I need a way for investigators to determine who was present at a protest that turns violent. My idea is that police use flashbang grenades to disperse the crowd that leave a ...
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2 votes
2 answers
130 views

Can it ever make sense to breathe sulfur?

Another question like this one inspired by Iceworld. Along with having bodily fluids based on copper chloride, the Sarrians from Hal Clement's Iceworld are described as breathing gaseous sulfur. Even ...
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12 votes
5 answers
3k views

Could a biological creature get oxygen from oxide rocks or by breaking down H2O?

I was curious if some biological creature, natural or engineered, alien or Earth-born, might technically be able to get oxygen from oxide rocks. I was similar curious if you could atomically break ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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What kind of world could produce polyoxometallate life?

There has been some cool work in synthetic life to produce cells based on polyoxometalate ions, certain metal oxide complexes have been shown to have autocatalytic behavior, and heteropolymetalate ...
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3 votes
1 answer
68 views

Chemical phase separation in liquid salts?

This may just be a straight-up chemistry question, but it's got a distinctly world-building motivation, so... Hal Clement, in his novel Iceworld, posits the existence of hot-world aliens living at ...
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6 votes
1 answer
193 views

Can life exist with rigid cell membranes?

Acrylonitrile has been suggested as an alternative membrane-forming material for conditions like those on the surface of Titan, which might allow living cells to develop in liquid methane or ethane ...
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4 votes
1 answer
74 views

How to make terrestrial biochemistry more acid-resistant?

So, I'm designing a race of sapient extraterrestrials for a series of short stories, and I've gotten to the point of designing their basic biochemistry, but I have a problem: Both their environment ...
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2 votes
2 answers
101 views

How to replace glucose with ethanol?

So, I'm designing a species of sapient extraterrestrials for a series of short stories, and I've gotten to the point of needing to find a significant biochemical difference between life on their world ...
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2 votes
2 answers
190 views

Are there any alternatives to oxygen for animal life?

Almost all animal life on Earth uses oxygen, due to its powerful ability to oxidize various compounds While there are many bacteria which use a different electron acceptor, I can find no examples of ...
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Can sharkmen perceive your emotions?

alledgedly sharks can feel a humans heartbeat from a mile away or something like that, and they can perceive electrical signals, makes you wonder how come then they are dumb enough to confuse surfing ...
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2 votes
5 answers
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Are there things that can make natural lifespan in other planets inherently longer?

How would things like gravity, air composition and density affect the lifespan of the biological protein based life that inhabits the planet, or would they have any significant effect at all? Honestly ...
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6 votes
2 answers
143 views

Bones with iron like beaver teeth. Would it work?

Beavers, asides from being the largest rodent in North America and making rather fetching hats, also have iron compounds within their teeth enamel which allows said tooth handle higher amounts of ...
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6 votes
4 answers
219 views

A substance that would cause a human to explode if eaten, but not your pet

I have a scene where a little girl has a pet. It could be a dog, cat, bird, monkey, whatever works for the scene, it just has to be something that humans keep as pets. She is feeding the pet with a ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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How fast would 2ft tall people process alcohol?

I have a world both of normal humans and a fantasy race that are basically 2ft tall, with large heads and torsos and stubby legs if that's important. They typically weigh about the same as a housecat. ...
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4 votes
5 answers
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How can a creature get high off of anti-acne medication?

For some reason, there's a creature that gets high off of acne medication, as per the title. Specifically, when it ingests a certain quantity of clindamycin phosphate 1 % topical solution - an ...
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3 votes
3 answers
341 views

If endotoxemia and proteins denaturing are no longer problems, what's the next overheating-related threat to an organism?

Let's say that it's impossible for a hypothetical organism's proteins to denature - unfolding and loosing their structure - due to high heat, and that, as such, temperatures equal to those required ...
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1 vote
2 answers
99 views

How do I stop blood from clotting except upon exposure to the atmosphere? [closed]

Blood clots in order to stop bleeding. The problem is that sometimes it clots when it's not supposed to. This is called thrombosis. It kills a shit-ton of people each year. I want this to stop ...
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3 votes
4 answers
150 views

How much biological overlap would there be between a mirror life ecosystem and an Earthly ecosystem?

Background: Chiral molecules or ions are particles which cannot be made congruent to one another via flipping one or rotating one. For example, the same property applies to your hands, assuming that ...
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2 votes
2 answers
103 views

What can we infer about a creatures that uses some kind of oil instead of water for our cellular fluid?

Is it feasible to envision a biology where oil is the main "solvent" (not sure if this word is chemically accurate). Whereas humans are 80% water, these guys would be 80% "canola oil&...
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25 votes
22 answers
6k views

How do I stop Bob the gigantic animal from overheating?

Specifically: what are some biological structures that could help subvert the square-cube law's effects on animal overheating? Bob is a really, really big land-based ambush predator that's normally ...
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  • 9,606
5 votes
3 answers
223 views

A chemical process that creates sapphire bones

To quote Logan R. Kearsley's answer to this question regarding stronger-than-normal bones for making big but proportionate humanoids: And if you wanna go a little further out there... Sapphire ...
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8 votes
1 answer
278 views

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Limpet-Style Metal Superbones

Some context, right off the bat: I am a mad scientist. This means that evolution has been defenestrated; as such, I am not interested in determining what evolutionary pressures might lead to the ...
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13 votes
4 answers
2k views

What biomaterials with higher compressive strength than bone can I use to make big but proportionate humanoids?

One of the many problems with making really, really big creatures is that their bones are, eventually, incapable of supporting their own weight. Eventually, they get to be all leg and no body. This is ...
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20 votes
2 answers
3k views

Is bioluminescence metabolically expensive?

A small creature I have in mind is highly toxic and constantly glows as a distinctly visible warning to everything else at night. It would use other warning methods but they're not really visible in ...
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7 votes
3 answers
641 views

Is it possible to induce prions/protein-folding diseases via a magnetic field of sufficient strength?

This logbook entry from Destiny 2 states that WARNING. Novel prion detected in body collagen. Hypothesis: Jovian magnetosphere promotes highly abnormal protein folding. Prognosis: massive sloughing/...
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4 votes
2 answers
99 views

What are good structural and energy-storage molecules that don't release gas when synthesized?

Nicar is a carbon world (formed from a protoplanetary disk with more carbon than oxygen, so water is geologically unstable and the chemical environment is strongly reducing) with ammonia oceans and ...
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6 votes
2 answers
125 views

Aliens Using Both L and R-Amino Acids or Sugars - are they possible?

It's fairly common to see discussion of different chirality for amino acids and sugars whenever people ask for advice on plausible alien designs or biochemistry (e.g.: metabolizing left-handed sugars ...
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8 votes
8 answers
2k views

Could silicon-based lifeforms eat carbon-based food? [closed]

Say a group of silicon-based aliens arrive on earth, would their bodies be able to extract any nutrients from carbon-based food?
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