“Like a crystal,” says Leavitt. “Well, gentlemen: there’s our answer.”
“To what?” asks Hall.
“How Andromeda functions without amino acids,” replies Leavitt.
“Crystalline structure,” says Stone.
“Yes,” says Leavitt. “I’ve often thought that living matter might be based on crystals of some kind. All these wedge-shaped compartments? They’d serve to separate biochemical functions very well.”
As they watch the screen, the Andromeda cell folds itself into a more complex shape.
“It’s dividing!” says Dutton.
“In a vacuum?” says Stone. “Bombarded by electrons?” It shouldn’t even be alive!”
“That’s what I wanted to tell you,” says Leavitt. “The growth program shows that Andromeda could live on anything. Only gas and light affect it.”
“You didn’t get any no-growth results on the cultures?” asks Hall.
“None,” says Leavitt, walking to the console. She pushes two buttons and brings up two maps of the Petri dishes. “Look – the poorest growth occurs in pure oxygen, incubated under infrared light. Andromeda grows best in carbon dioxide and hydrogen, incubated under x-rays.”
“No excretions,” says Dutton.