Ancient giant silicon-based tree hypothesis
| Style over substance|
The ancient giant silicon-based tree hypothesis was first formulated by Russian YouTuber and Flat Earth conspiracy theorist Людин Рɣси in 2016, which proposes that many geological formations are actually remains of an extinct clade of huge botanical species.
“”The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth.
|— Daniel 4:11|
The hypothesis is yet another example of Biblical literalists trying to reconcile their beliefs with observable reality. However, trees that are both giant and made out of rock are not mentioned. And yet, this does not take into account the living state of those trees - before they turned into stone upon dying.
Silicon life, even if possible, would not be compatible with carbon-based life. Due to its bigger size, silicon atoms can hardly establish double bonds, as carbon can. As a result, many silicon analogues of carbon cannot form, making its chemistry much poorer than that of carbon, which illustrates greater molecular stability, and therefore independence of carbon analogues, that isn't vulnerable to contamination with cross-reactants ever abundant in the case of carbon.
It is also dubious if aerobic respiration could be possible. Both carbon and silicon have a valence of +4, but they oxidize differently. Carbon's smaller atomic size allows it to form stable double bonds with oxygen, and the resulting CO2 is a gas. Silicon, on the other hand, is too large to form stable double bonds, and instead it forms single bonds with four oxygen atoms. This leaves the oxygen atoms able to bond with another silicon atom, which bonds with three other oxygen atoms, which bond with silicon, and so on ad infinitum. Basically, it becomes a crystal.
Earth's gravity posits biophysical limits to plant growth. George Koch et al. of the Northern Arizona University calculated that at most, trees can theoretically reach a height of 130 meters. There is no evidence that trees with fantastical biochemistry could grow any taller than that. This, however, does not consider whether or not gravity itself exhibits properties as opposed to them being attributed to density and buoyancy variations alone.
Good things we can say about it
- There are no forests on Flat Earth Wake Up. YouTube. 1 August 2016.
- Flat earth supporter claims mountains are the ancient remains of gigantic silicon trees. Ufoholic. 12 August 2016.
- Kyle Hunt. Were There Giant Trees in the Days of Yore?. Renegade Tribune. 10 August 2016.
- Raymond Dessy. Could silicon be the basis for alien life forms, just as carbon is on Earth?. Scientific American.
- Niklas KJ. Maximum plant height and the biophysical factors that limit it. Tree Physiology. NCBI. 27 March 2007.
- How tall can trees grow?. LiveScience. 17 June 2011.