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Layla Nahar
12-02-2010, 11:16 PM
This is pretty neat.
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/12/nasa-finds-new-life/
its bacteria, so not a new life form per se, but it is different

"... NASA has discovered a completely new life form that doesn’t share the biological building blocks of anything currently living in planet Earth. This changes everything. ...they have found a bacteria whose DNA is completely alien to what we know today. Instead of using phosphorus, the bacteria uses arsenic. All life on Earth is made of six components: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. Every being, from the smallest amoeba to the largest whale, share the same life stream. Our DNA blocks are all the same."

LBlankenship
12-03-2010, 12:45 AM
... I don't know, if it's still using ATCG I wouldn't call it completely alien. An innovative adaptation to use an element plentiful in the environment, but not completely alien.

Still cool though!

LBlankenship
12-03-2010, 12:47 AM
Link to NASA's more informative story (http://www.nasa.gov/topics/universe/features/astrobiology_toxic_chemical.html).

efkelley
12-03-2010, 03:50 AM
The aliens are here! And they're after our poison!! Down with aliens!!!

Don Evan Scott
12-03-2010, 04:13 AM
That's really awesome. Being the first time something that doesn't use phosphorus in its DNA and membranes is really cool, but finding bacteria that do strange things is nothing new - like some thermophiles that live in boiling water.

thothguard51
12-03-2010, 05:19 AM
What about bacterial that lives in anal glands? Surely they are alien organisms...

small axe
12-05-2010, 08:57 AM
In the laboratory, the researchers successfully grew microbes from the lake on a diet that was very lean on phosphorus, but included generous helpings of arsenic. When researchers removed the phosphorus and replaced it with arsenic the microbes continued to grow. Subsequent analyses indicated that the arsenic was being used to produce the building blocks of new GFAJ-1 cells.


It'll be interesting to see if the new "arsenic-based" microbes now have arsenic-luvin' descendents though.

Otherwise it's not really altered or evolved anything "new" has it? They've just gotten existing creatures to adapt?

But as Nietzsche wrote: 'What does not kill me ... makes me hungry for rat poison."

That's a dilemma between the ORIGIN of Life versus the ADAPTATION of Life that's sometimes confused; Life is ingenious at surviving and adapting once alive (hence, Evolution is all around) ... but DEAD chemistry turning into LIFE may be so rare (and, to take a creationist POV on it, "impossible") as to be unique to Earth.

Claiming "There are so many stars in the cosmos, there must be many planets where life arises" is like accepting that a million monkeys flailing on a million typewriters will in fact write the entire works of Shakespeare.

Less likely still: That even if a million monkeys write Shakespeare, that among those million monkeys there "must be" or "must evolve" a monkey who could read and understand Shakespeare.

Hopefully YES ... probably in fact NEVER. But why squash Hopes you cannot disallow?

It's unfortunate to see how a perfectly fascinating scientific finding can so quickly be "dumbed down" and mis-reported and mis-understood by our News media reporting it, too.

Pthom
12-05-2010, 10:34 AM
The interesting thing about this is that a life form on Earth has managed to exist without phosphorous, using instead, arsenic. An adaptation? On Earth, no doubt. But it means that it is possible for life to have evolved from some primordial soup in what we would consider an impossible environment, i.e.: in some place other than Earth.

Arsenic is just a square away from phosphorous on the periodic table. Silicon is just a square away from carbon. Selenium is just a square away from sulfur. If a microbe can make one substitution work here, what is there to say that another track of evolution hasn't already occurred elsewhere?

ColoradoMom
12-06-2010, 01:21 AM
But it means that it is possible for life to have evolved from some primordial soup in what we would consider an impossible environment, i.e.: in some place other than Earth.

Yes, that was really the only point - besides the actual ability to replace P with As which is a cool FYI if you're an organism that finds that useful.

The moons of Saturn are what they are interested in - methane lakes. And if methane lakes are not out of the question, why not carbion dioxide plumes on Venus? Why not the corona of the sun? The dust on Mars?

The more instances of life we find in extreme environments on earth the more possible is the notion that they exist in places written off as not capable of harboring life. It changes our definition of life as well as how and where we look for it.

benbradley
12-06-2010, 01:55 AM
I just noticed this thread - we have the same topic going on over in P&CE:
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=198096
Thread carefully, the posters are rougher than a rejecting agent over there. ;-)

blacbird
12-09-2010, 02:17 AM
As I posted over in PC&E, this "discovery" is coming under serious critical scrutiny:

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/12/07/5607541-weird-life-claims-spark-a-backlash

ColoradoMom
12-11-2010, 01:57 AM
As I posted over in PC&E, this "discovery" is coming under serious critical scrutiny:

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/12/07/5607541-weird-life-claims-spark-a-backlash

I'd be willing to bet a dollar that those scientists could give a shit what everyone else thinks. They were published in Science (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2010/12/01/science.1197258). End of story.

They are guaranteed grant money for two decades off this one article and they are laughing all the way to the tissue culture room...

Ruv Draba
12-11-2010, 03:21 AM
I'd be willing to bet a dollar that those scientists could give a shit what everyone else thinks.I think Pons and Fleischmann (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_fusion) might take your bet, CM. Scientists have long memories, and an accusation of sloppy control is pretty much a veiled accusation of incompetence.

GeorgeK
12-11-2010, 03:52 PM
The interesting thing about this is that a life form on Earth has managed to exist without phosphorous, using instead, arsenic. An adaptation? On Earth, no doubt. But it means that it is possible for life to have evolved from some primordial soup in what we would consider an impossible environment, i.e.: in some place other than Earth.

Arsenic is just a square away from phosphorous on the periodic table. Silicon is just a square away from carbon. Selenium is just a square away from sulfur. If a microbe can make one substitution work here, what is there to say that another track of evolution hasn't already occurred elsewhere?

No, it is not that it exists without phosphorus. It is that it exists with little phophorus. It's a tremendous difference. Also apparently it's only substituting arsenic in the DNA as opposed to having something apart from ATP for cellular energy production. It's simply another extremophile that has adapted a way to use arsenic as a placeholder in order to conserve what little phosphorus is available.

It's cool, but far from mind blowing.
If you want mind blowing critters, try these puppies, MULTICELLULAR life in an ANOXIC environment

http://www.answers.com/topic/loricif...ic_environment (http://www.answers.com/topic/loricifera#In_anoxic_environment)
In anoxic environment
Three species of Loricifera have been found in the sediments at the bottom of the L'Atalante basin (http://www.absolutewrite.com/topic/l-atalante-basin) in Mediterranean Sea (http://www.absolutewrite.com/topic/mediterranean-sea), more than 3,000 meters down, the first multicellular organisms known to spend their entire lives in an oxygen-free environment. They are able to do this because they rely on hydrogenosomes (http://www.absolutewrite.com/topic/hydrogenosome) (or similar organelles) instead of on mitochondria (http://www.absolutewrite.com/topic/mitochondrion) for energy.[6] (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/#cite_note-Nature-5) [7] (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/#cite_note-6)
The newly reported animals complete their life cycle in the total absence of light and oxygen, and they are less than a millimetre in size.[8] (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/#cite_note-Mentel_2010-7) They were collected from a deep basin at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, where they inhabit a nearly salt-saturated brine that, because of its density (> 1.2 g/cm³), does not mix with the waters above.[8] (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/#cite_note-Mentel_2010-7) As a consequence, this environment is completely anoxic and, due to the activity of sulphate (http://www.absolutewrite.com/topic/sulfate) reducers, contains sulphide at a concentration of 2.9 mM.[8] (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/#cite_note-Mentel_2010-7) Despite such harsh conditions, this anoxic and sulphidic environment is teeming with microbial life, both chemosynthetic prokaryotes that are primary producers (http://www.absolutewrite.com/topic/primary-producers), and a broad diversity of eukaryotic heterotrophs (http://www.absolutewrite.com/topic/heterotroph) at the next trophic level (http://www.absolutewrite.com/topic/trophic-level-1).

ColoradoMom
12-12-2010, 01:34 AM
I think Pons and Fleischmann (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_fusion) might take your bet, CM. Scientists have long memories, and an accusation of sloppy control is pretty much a veiled accusation of incompetence.


LOL...really? This study and cold fusion are being compared by what standard?

That's really just bizarre if you ask me. And I guess you haven't been to grad school lately - the ONLY thing they really DO teach you is how to accuse your fellow scientist of incompetence. You take that class every semester for the rest of your life.

If you read the paper they did a better than average job than many scientific papers I've read and I really don't see the beef. What I DO see is a lot of jealous ego-maniac scientists who think if they raise a stink they can steal some thunder.

It's sad - but that's how science works. If you can't make a name for yourself using your own original ideas then just complain about how other more productive scientists do things so people will pay attention to you. Kind of like writing in a lot of ways...Twilight is a good parallel.

If they can do it better then by all means - let them. Then they can get grant money for 20 years and laugh themselves silly.

It's simply absurd to go overboard on this study on either end - it's ONE example. People need to take a deep breath and get back to work.

richcapo
01-15-2011, 07:40 PM
What about bacterial that lives in anal glands? Surely they are alien organisms...Nah, they're just kinky.

_Richard

lpetrich
01-31-2011, 05:17 PM
The skeptics' position is that this is a very ordinary sort of bacterium with an extreme tolerance of arsenic, but one that nevertheless continues to use phosphorus.

I agree with that -- I don't think that that bug's discoverers have succeeded in demonstrating that it successfully replaces phosphorus with arsenic.