• I’ve just read that hydrogen and helium are the most abundant elements in the universe.  (stars)  Stars begin by burning hydrogen via fusion, and then when all their hydrogen fuel runs out, having been fused into helium, then the stars will simply begin burning helium.  By the way, supposedly when that happens in our solar system, in about 5 billion years, then the sun will puff up dramatically, enough to engulf the Earth’s orbit.  😢

  • Actually, I don’t have a periodic table in front of me right now, but isn’t helium one of the Noble Gases?  That would mean that it is IMPOSSIBLE for any helium-based life-forms, since the Noble Gases’ valences are so low, (zero) that they don’t ever bond with anything else.

  • Except themselves…

  • @ncscswitch:

    Except themselves…

    I don’t know if that’s true… I thought elements with noncovalent bonding can’t bond with anything, even themselves

  • An element’s valence just means how many available “slots” it has with which to form covalent bonds.  So I might just say that they can’t even bond with themselves either.

  • The available bonding slots has a lot to do with whether you can get life out of molecules. Hydrogen has a valence of 1 (one slot), so you can only bond it to one molecule. Oxygen has a valence of 2, Nitrogen has a valence of 3, and Carbon has a valence of 4. Silicon also has a valence of 4, which is why Silicon is considered as a possibility for forming life. Having a valence of 4 means that you can bind the maximum number of atoms to the atom, and can form all kinds of chains. Helium is a noble gas, so it is most stable not bonded to anything.

    Another factor is whether you have a solution in which reactions can take place on the base molecule. Water happens to be the perfect solution for carbon based reactions to take place, which is why scientists look for water when they are looking for life.

  • Yes water is useful because it has a neutral pH, and also due to its continued dissociation between hydroxyl and hydrate ions

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