In the year 128,426 PF the robot race X-92Z has finally managed to populate numerous planets as Terra Prime becomes too caustic for continued inhabitation. X-92Zkind know that they were created by some other type of race because their circuitry and mechanical form could not have spontaneously generated.

X-92Zkind has a goal of discerning the sort of race that could have created them but that is of secondary importance to their goal of finding a way out of the Universe. The oldest of their kind, Krahn, is over 250,000 Terra Prime years old, and although it can’t remember much from Before Fall (BF) because of damaged circuits, he does know that the youngest member of X-92Z will likely outlast the Universe.

On an outpost on planet Terra-793, the X92Z inhabitants of an excavated cavern have noticed a strange phenomenon; the walls of the cavern are slowly turning black. Oxidation is ruled out since the colour change spreads from ground zero – a section of the cavern that had been breached 400 Terra Prime years earlier. Close examination reveals a complex, self-replicating chemical process that seems to be absorbing particular minerals from the cavern wall, generating new units and thus migrating in a fractal pattern that confounds the best X92Z scientists.

This black substance is what we humans call mold, but the X92Z have no concept of biological processes or organisms. They have, in fact, discovered biologic life but they have no idea what life is. How do you think they would interpret this chemical process of self-replicating units?

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It seems silly to me to add in things beyond self-replication. That would be the very, very first step of life. It's not exactly going to be making long term plans, but it's doing what "life" does. Taking in resources, and replicating. People enjoy arguing way too much.
So now it's taking in resources too?
Replication would require some kind of process, which implies it'd need energy to perform this process. Unless this...thing, is self-sustaining, resources/food/energy would be required in order to continue replicating.
As far as your question about the most basic recursive chemical reaction,
Thank you. So some level of 'metabolism' might be a defining point of 'life'?

I'd say so. An ability to take in nutrients, whatever they may be, and metabolize them for energy. 

 

And for some reason the last part of my first response got cut off. Regarding the most basic chemical reactions, what about proteinoids and microspheres?

I don't know what proteinoids and microspheres are - got any good links?
Just a wikipedia page(i know, i know). I asked a friend your question and that's what she replied with. She didn't go into any details.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proteinoid

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsphere
Usually taking in nutrients would be required for replication. That's all for me.

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