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NASA finds new life


drdooom

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Nasa are holding a press conference in a few hours "to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life". Apparently/allegedly they've found bacteria in a poisoned lake in California that uses arsenic instead of phosphorous as one of its building blocks. This would obviously(?) change everything known about biology. Just how excited are you about this news?

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Nasa are holding a press conference in a few hours "to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life". Apparently/allegedly they've found bacteria in a poisoned lake in California that uses arsenic instead of phosphorous as one of its building blocks. This would obviously(?) change everything known about biology. Just how excited are you about this news?

 

Pretty excited. But then I love this stuff and am also a bit strange.

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It's just some organism that lives in an arsenic lake somewhere deep in the USA. This is important it seems.

 

Which is of course what you just said. ;)

 

All the nutters were going on about NASA having found alien life on Mars etc etc etc.

Edited by Gerry
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Nasa are holding a press conference in a few hours "to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life". Apparently/allegedly they've found bacteria in a poisoned lake in California that uses arsenic instead of phosphorous as one of its building blocks. This would obviously(?) change everything known about biology. Just how excited are you about this news?

 

World changes at it gets older / technology and nature advances shocker.

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From what I gather this is a pretty amazing discovery.

 

If what I've heard is right then this bacteria can switch from using phosphate in things like it's DNA, RNA, ATP and some of it's cell structures. As all life that we had known of until now only uses phosphate in these structures this is a huge discovery. It's one thing saying that life might be different but it's quite different actually proving that there are other ways of building DNA, RNA and ATP.

 

\excited molecular biologist... :yahoo:

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From what I gather this is a pretty amazing discovery.

 

If what I've heard is right then this bacteria can switch from using phosphate in things like it's DNA, RNA, ATP and some of it's cell structures. As all life that we had known of until now only uses phosphate in these structures this is a huge discovery. It's one thing saying that life might be different but it's quite different actually proving that there are other ways of building DNA, RNA and ATP.

 

\excited molecular biologist... :yahoo:

 

From what I understand, the big deal about this from a "space" point of view is that up until now, we've thought that life needs carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. If that were true, we'd have to find a planet with those elements in order to find life elsewhere. Here's a known organism that can substitute phosphorous with arsenic. This means the number of potential planets with life (as we know it) has gone up.

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From what I understand, the big deal about this from a "space" point of view is that up until now, we've thought that life needs carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. If that were true, we'd have to find a planet with those elements in order to find life elsewhere. Here's a known organism that can substitute phosphorous with arsenic. This means the number of potential planets with life (as we know it) has gone up.

 

Possibly, though do we know if there are planets without phosphates but which do have arsenic, or how many ? Its an intriguing step on the road though, and who knows what even more exotic organisms might be waiting to be discovered. Paul Davis who led the research team has written some interesting books on the origin of life on earth. Well worth a read, though he'll probably need to make some updates by now.

The idea I found most interesting was his theory that life may have evolved multiple times on earth and wiped out during the late heavy bombardment, when the earth's crust was subjected to massive impacts that would have rendered the top layer of crust molten and even vapourised for many thousands of years each time. Comets may have brought the water and the organics when things became more stable and then life had another genesis.

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The arsenic isn't really the point - it's that our view of what supports life was too restrictive.

 

maybe. Yes, we didn't know that other elements can be used in place of phosphate. But the organism has eveloved within a system of organisms that had their genesis in an environment rich with phosphate. Its news, its a development, but it doesn't necessarily tell us that life can start in other environments without those 6 elements.

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