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December 01, 2010

Oh Good Lord: NASA's Big Announcement Tomorrow Is They Found Some Terrestrial Bacteria That Can Live In Arsenic

Here's my problem:

1, they sure made this sound bigger, with all that "embargoed until Thursday" crap.

2, they are connecting this up with ETs by using it as evidence that life can take hold in very adverse conditions. But, like, didn't we already figure that? Evidence: The giant space slug in Empire Strikes Back. No, but really, we know stuff can live in the incredible pressures on the ocean's floor, or in magma vents, or in friggin' Antarctica; I think it's a good thing to know life can live with arsenic, but it's not exactly blowin' my paradigms of what is and what isn't possible.

So, here's the big secret.

Nasa scientists are set to announce that bacteria have been discovered that can survive in arsenic, an element previously thought too toxic to support life, it can be revealed.

In a press conference scheduled for tomorrow evening, researchers will unveil the discovery of the incredible microbe – which substitutes arsenic for phosphorus to sustain its growth – in a lake in California.

The remarkable discovery raises the prospect that life could exist on other planets which do not have phosphorus in the atmosphere, which had previously been thought vital for life to begin.

On that bit about phosphorus being necessary for life, this guy presented a paper making that case:

Phosphorus is a key element in biological systems, acting in cell replication as RNA and DNA, in cell structure as phospholipids, and in metabolism as ATP. Given its ubiquity in biochemistry, phosphorus was likely present in the origin or early evolution of life. I will discuss sources of phosphorus on the early earth, concentrating primarily on extraterrestrial sources of reduced oxidation state phosphorus compounds, and evidence that these sources were used by early biochemical systems. Additionally, I will show how these reduced oxidation state phosphorus compounds could act in prebiotic or early biochemical systems to generate both key biologic compounds and metabolic energy.

To which I can only say:


PWN3D, you stupid dick!

Just kidding.


digg this
posted by Ace at 03:59 PM

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