Hypothetical types of biochemistry
Hypothetical types of biochemistry are forms of biochemistry speculated to be scientifically viable but not proven to exist at this time. The kinds of living beings currently known on Earth all use carbon compounds for basic structural and metabolic functions, water as a solvent and DNA or RNA to define and control their form. If life exists on other planets or moons, it may be chemically similar; it is also possible that there are organisms with quite different chemistries—for instance involving other classes of carbon compounds, compounds of another element, or another solvent in place of water.The possibility of life-forms being based on ""alternative"" biochemistries is the topic of an ongoing scientific discussion, informed by what is known about extraterrestrial environments and about the chemical behaviour of various elements and compounds. It is also a common subject in science fiction.The element silicon has been much discussed as a hypothetical alternative to carbon. Silicon is in the same group as carbon in the periodic table, and like carbon is tetravalent, although the silicon analogs of organic compounds are generally less stable. Hypothetical alternatives to water include ammonia, which, like water, is a polar molecule, and cosmically abundant; and non-polar hydrocarbon solvents such as methane and ethane, which are known to exist in liquid form on the surface of Titan.