A rush of adrenaline or the pain of a burn seem simple enough, but both are the result of complex chemical interactions known as signaling cascades, vital to all life on Earth.
European scientists are taking the first steps toward creating synthetic signaling cascades. The research has powerful implications for how life on Earth could have developed and what life on other planets could look like.
It could also lead to stronger materials that can respond to their environment intelligently.
“The machines that we use to travel in space and go to the bottom of the ocean — to go places where biological organisms can’t go — are complex but also rather simple in that they are dumb pieces of metal stuck together with rivets and glue,” said Jonathan Nitschke, a scientist at the University of Cambridge and the co-author of a recent paper in the journal Nature Chemistry.
“If we had materials that stuck together like biological organisms, that grew and responded to stimuli, that healed themselves after being punctured, (then) that could allow you to make a living spaceship that could safely travel through space,” he added. “This research allows us to start dreaming in that direction — at least a little bit.”