SOX: Silicon based Organisms on eXoplanets

As the most important member of the group, it’ll be me, Ned Head, who shares the progress and inner functions of the project SOX (Silicon-based Organisms on eXoplanets). In this project, the bald looking thumb cats in the photo below are gonna try to find the conditions at which a silicon based life could form and whack that into the Drake equation.

Project SOX after whooping the Yankees at football and volleyball and sports. Left to right: Joe Head, Communications lead and Ned Supervisor; Lucy Cryer, Administrator and Report lead; Xinyi Zhou, Data and Theory lead; Ned the Cat, Distraction and Cuteness lead; Benedek Kovacs, Co-ordinator and Programming lead; Ross Booker, Error Analysis lead and Coding Aid; Dr David Sobral, Lecturer/lead for PHYS369.

Check our blog posts here and keep up with what we are doing

Silicon compared to carbon is like a scraggy ginger tom compared to a gorgeous Tabby (like myself). In that, I mean they have almost identical outer electronic structure so can form analogous compounds to what we see in biochemistry. However these are often either explosively reactive or sit there like a block of quartz. In our research, we will be analysing the properties of possible silicon biochemistry and using that to compare how silicon life may change certain cosmological values, such as the Habitable zone, and values in the Drake Equation.

Overall, there are a few catflaps to pass before we can get our result. Firstly, we need a theory on what kind of chemicals & compounds might make up silicon based life. Lucy, Xinyi and Joe are chewing on that one and waiting for a meeting with Dr Zita Martins (Astrobiologist that can hopefully correct their awful chemistry understanding). Meanwhile, Benedek and Ross aren’t just napping and beating up the neighbor’s dog, they’re working on an atmospheric simulation of an exoplanet which produces a surface temperature profile based on various different parameters. This simulation will also take into account day and night cycles, as well as seasonal change. By comparing these new temperature simulations to the requirements for a silicon based life, we can determine a new habitable zone and search the NASA exoplanet archive and determine how common possible host planets are.