How exotic alien life could thrive in the giant molecular clouds of deep space

Without liquid water it is hard for me to imagine life being viable on an ongoing basis.

Liquid water is a dense cradle of fragmentary chemistry. Ionic tags can be held at abeyance until something is ready to combine it with a polar opposite constituent.
Organisms on Earth utilize methane for energy, but i am quite sure that is in some context of water.

In youth i always wondered why air (O2 & N2) were 'lighter' than a molecule of water (H2O).
Mathematically it didn't add up.
Only when I understood the incredible polarity of water getting electrio-polarly entangled with itself did the greater density of water than air make sense.

Unless one can come up with an alternative fluid (chemical context) which is a dense storm of electric polarity as is water i have a hard time thinking biochemical life would be possible.
Water at the Earth's surface (pressure) doesn't become vapor until 212F.
Air doesn't become liquid except at extremely cold temperatures.
It takes a lot more energy to vaporize water because it has to overcome all that electrostatic bonding.
Electrostatics make liquid water quite dense.
Water has vapor above it no matter what the temperature. On a warm day, the Sun will evaporate water from your lawn and it will rise to form clouds.

Yes, water has a very high heat of evaporation due to its strongly polar nature.
Water vapor by definition would be a water molecule(s) whose vector characteristics surpass its (their) electro-polar interactiveness (connectedness).
Location as well as speed would be relevant.
Water in an enclosed container would complicate the precise definition.

Water is highly cohesive.
It beads in freefall.
"Location as well as speed would be relevant.
Water in an enclosed container would complicate the precise definition." - Questioner

Heisenberg uncertainty principle prevents knowing the exact velocity and location of a particle at the same time.
My main point is that water is highly polar & can sustain an ion in solution because the opposite pole on the water molecules rotate/shift to balance the electric charge.
And yet the water molecules don't covalently bond with it because their internal covalent bonds are stronger.
This allows elaborated juggling of chemistry in the manner biochemical life operates.
Unless some other chemical context is available to have electro-polar opposites in molecular proximity, life is hard to imagine.
Perhaps in freefall if enough electrostatic noise is available something might work, but the manipulatable, controllable, reliable aspects of water seem nearly impossible to top.
There is good reason liquid water might exist inside a molecular cloud. A cloud progresses from a near vacuum to a star. There are many pressure/temperature regimes the cloud went through, some of which might have allowed water.
Yeah randomly, intermittently,
but in a relatively consistent basis that some replicating organic molecule that forms being able to reliably create the same response it needs to operate?
Pardon my doubts.
Correct, all of the water in the vacuum of space is frozen. But not inside molecular clouds on their way to forming a star. Temperatures and pressures there can be within the range for water to exist.
Life processes require several cradles.
1) One is the cell (wall) itself.
For that to form in any freestanding way some kind of relativity chemically neutral fluid of some reasonable density is needed to support that (generally flimsy) structure.
A uniform stable physical context.

Water stabilizes ionic molecules,
avoiding immediate reactions,
making it a (2) chemical cradle.

Pressure is a driver of life sustaining chemical reactions, especially in a reliable ongoing basis.
Water's polarity helps with this,
but some kind of gravity well goes much further.
On the surface of Earth we are in the containment vessel of gravity and the planet's crust.

In a way i think my distinction between amorphous AI and robot based AI,
may apply.
Without any contextual structural physical foundations there is no bias to favor any form/formation whatsoever.
No real defining characteristics.
No frame of reference.
3) A cradle of definition is needed imo.
A distinct magnetic field might work.
Life is a filtering of forms, operations that are appropriate for a given context.
An amorphous cloud has virtually no bias upon which to filter much of anything.

If life got to a stellar cloud it might figure something out,
but actually evolving from an amorphous cloud,
i find lacks credibility.
The concludes, "This work has important implications for our understanding of the origins of life. If life can arise on its own outside a planetary environment, this would bolster the case for panspermia, the idea that life pervades the universe and seeds itself in newly born planets."

Okay, need to show abiogenesis creates this exotic life in a gas cloud in space, perhaps the Orion nebula now very visible in evening skies with my telescopes. frequently reports on abiogenesis taking place somewhere in the universe, Enceladus is back in the news again too.

Saturn's icy moon may hold the building blocks of life,

Saturn's moon Enceladus has all the ingredients for life in its icy oceans. But is life there?,

Charles Darwin looked for a warm little pond in his 1871 letter, now astronomy looks to gas clouds in space for abiogenesis too. In 1882, Charles Darwin acknowledged no good evidence presented in his days for abiogenesis. The law of biogenesis was established with Louis Pasteur experiments. The law of abiogenesis at work in nature remains to be shown and Charles Darwin in his 1882 letter hoped someday that law would be found in science. The check is in the mail still it seems.
In a sense evolution is happening everywhere all the time.
Circumstances filter the events & forms that do happen.
& i mean that larger than biology.
Aggregations of sufficient yet not excess matter tend to form (approximate) spheres.
Amorphous clouds exist where the environment suited supporting an amorphous cloud.

With biology on Earth the distinction is that includes pattern and form (approximate) replication.

What in this environment filters for replication?
(of relatively discrete/finite forms)
periodicy? a (disposable?) form that 'neatly' fits a regular wave pattern?

And is it that once replication happens it statistically/mechanically tends to numerically dominate? (It gets the most mileage out of the wave pattern?)
A relatively sure bet keeps generating the same bet?
In a mostly unchanging environment a previous form is a likely 'success' path for the current form.

It makes me think of a timid physics action that is most often not terminally checked by the environment.
Like an action that has some counter weight (baggage?) to complete maniacal, mindless kinetic action.
It's forever taking measured half-action(s).
Like something that bounces back & forth inside a containent field.

Life as we know it utilizes articulated/managed oxidation. A kinetic/maniacal bonfire not so much.

Life is sort of a cradle of indeterminacy,
& that indeterminacy allows for what appears to be semi-physics independent actions,
which itself allows for seeming semi-arbitrary decision making.
The indecisive ethos allows for arbitrary decisiveness.
(to go in original directions?)
Life is somewhat independent/unpredictable which is not dissimilar to quantum mechanical outcomes.
Yes an amino acid, but that's a very very long way from a self replicating molecule let alone an organized living cell.

I like the idea that periodicy might filter for self replication.

On Earth there are several cyclic patterns.
There's the daily cycle, light, dark, warmer, cooler.
There's the annual cycle and its seasonality.

There's the lunar cycle which because of tidal effects could readily affect shoreline based forms.
Physical forms that regularly gel &/or dry then are re-wetted.
Perhaps forms that eventually ride/weather through both over dry & over wet periods.

Prions are self replicating proteins.
My guess is they operate where some relatively rich soup of proteins is available, but also seem able to persist even when that's not available.
If someone could grow a prion from scratch (simple amino acids) the method(s) utilized could be informative.

Cellular organization would still be a big leap from that.
It has been stated for a very long time that water media is needed for life. BUT, recently thru environmental DNA, we have found thousands of new life forms, that no one has seen yet. And no one has any idea of their life cycles. We have found their DNA, but have not found them. And a lot of these appear to live in a gaseous environment. Our atmosphere. But we don't know, til we find them. And we have been searching for years.

It's quite a ruckus. Maybe a living entity without cells. Much smaller then cells. A cell predator perhaps. A whole new scale of living beings. Lots of re-thinking to be done.