READ THIS! Arsenic-utilizing life form discovered by NASA! (In California)


READ IT!

Excuse me for my caps, but I am excited.
 

MOD EDIT: Here's is the article in question, updated. Our posting guidelines ask that blogs or discussions about content external to ThinkAtheist include not just a link but either the article itself or a commentary on that external content.

 
NASA has discovered a new life form, a bacteria called GFAJ-1 that is unlike anything currently living in planet Earth. It's capable of using arsenic to build its DNA, RNA, proteins, and cell membranes. This changes everything. Updated.
 
NASA is saying that this is "life as we do not know it". The reason is that 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.
 
That was true until today. In a surprising revelation, NASA scientist Felisa Wolfe-Simon and her team have found a bacteria whose DNA is completely alien to what we know today, working differently than the rest of the organisms in the planet. Instead of using phosphorus, the newly discovered microorganism—called GFAJ-1 and found in Mono Lake, California—uses the poisonous arsenic for its building blocks. Arsenic is an element poisonous to every other living creature in the planet except for a few specialized microscopic creatures.
 

 
The new life forms up close, at five micrometers.
 
According to Wolfe-Simon, they knew that "some microbes can breathe arsenic, but what we've found is a microbe doing something new—building parts of itself out of arsenic." The implications of this discovery are enormous to our understanding of life itself and the possibility of finding organisms in other planets that don't have to be like planet Earth. Like NASA's Ed Weiler says: "The definition of life has just expanded."
 
Talking at the NASA conference, Wolfe-Simon said that the important thing in their study is that this breaks our ideas on how life can be created and grow, pointing out that scientists will now be looking for new types of organisms and metabolism that not only uses arsenic, but other elements as well. She says that she's working on a few possibilities herself.
 
NASA's geobiologist Pamela Conrad thinks that the discovery is huge and "phenomenal," comparing it to the Star Trek episode in which the Enterprise crew finds Horta, a silicon-based alien life form that can't be detected with tricorders because it wasn't carbon-based. It's like saying that we may be looking for new life in the wrong places with the wrong methods. Indeed, NASA tweeted that this discovery "will change how we search for life elsewhere in the Universe."
 

 
Mono Lake, in Central California. Image Credit: NASA

Tags: NASA, announcement, arsenic, bacteria, life

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Why would that be? It would show that the conditions needed for life are not as restrictive as some may think. But then again, if bananas and peanut butter give them fuel for their beliefs, then anything can really. Anyway, let's see what NASA has to say and enjoy the greatness our civilization can achieve in spite of how primitive most of us are.
Well, if this organism has a completely different biological structure than us, to the average evolution denying idiot, wouldn't they say,

"HA! I told you it was all by design!" rather than the more logical possibility that it evolved that way?
Actually, we would say,

"HA! I told you life can form from complex chemistry!"
Anything is possible with creationists. But we can't really stop discovering things or producing peanut butter because some people may take those as signs that their Sky Daddy built us from dirt.
Any ID victory here would be short-lived. Science will be able to explain this in terms of evolution, I think also adding to proof of how "chance" just opens the door to more possibilities.
Well, if this organism has a completely different biological structure than us, to the average evolution denying idiot, wouldn't they say,

They could, and probably would, say that.

But what it really shows is that chemistry, time, and a wider range of environments and processes can yield life, making it not as improbable as we once thought.
If it opens up new possibilities for new life forms wouldn't it crush the idea of us being the only ones? Ive always wanted it to happen but i dont think there is.. They could never use their "Why do you think we are the only life forms in the universe?"
but it doesn't. The life form was found on THIS planet, wasn't it?
New possibilities of life forms, not just based on 6 certain elements. This can change the inhabitable zone for creatures unlike us?
Well, if two separate life origins are on the same planet, then abiogenesis is more likely than people would have imagined. That's unless the FSM isn't testing our beliefs with a tiny bacteria. Or maybe he changed his mind about life on Earth. He saw that we aren't as good as he imagined and he's now testing alternatives. This us just the beginning, I tell you... just the beginning. Who's up for building an ark?

P.S. I don't know why, but I have this funny feeling we're talking about something different that what this arsenic-based life, if even there, would mean. As I heard about it, it would still come from the same common ancestor for all the life on Earth. It would just be kind of different than all other life forms that we know of, but still sharing the underlying bond that is DNA, even if somehow modified. But let's see what happens instead of speculating like this!

EDIT: Yeah, I didn't see Adriana's post below. That clears thing up a little.
DNA is chemically. If it contains arsenic, it is a different chemical.
Not necessarily. If the arsenic was part of a nucleic acid (not even sure if that is chemically possible) then it would just be another type of base.

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