My Russian-speaking friend recently used this one in asking me a question: "do you think there is living in space?" while using the gerund "living" in place of a noun.
To me it sounds horribly wrong--I would say: "do you think there is life in space?" or "do you think there are living things in space?" but I'm having trouble justifying this with an actual rule or convention on why.
I want to say that the definition of "living" as a gerund or noun refers to the condition of being alive and not a living thing itself, and can't be a replacement for the word "life", but I'm not confident that this is really the reason.