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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I have a couple thousand dollars. That's it. But i can put in a lot of man hours as long as i get a guaranteed spot on it... and my dog :)
Think about this. Any living creature that we did know evolved from a single ancestor that had DNA.

This bacteria is a different lineage if it proves to be true. We are not related to it in any way if it has different genetic code. Every living thing has DNA. Nasa might prove us wrong.

Also, because of this, it means life has evolved twice ( from chemicals ) on earth. This opens possibilities for life evolving on other planets that fits those chemical prerequisites.
The bacteria is not from a different lineage:

THAT is what I was hoping to see. I don't know if you recall me asking you about a second lineage on Earth, but I would find that equally, if not more, astonishing as extraterrestrial life.

Still, this is exciting and really expands the parameters for astrobiology.
I would suspect the opposite. It would show that life evolved twice, separately, on this planet.
Okay, that answers my whole creationist question thing then.

Can't wait until we find life on other planets.
Hey >.> (lol)
It's not as exciting as it seems: this bacterium can use either phosphorous or arsenic. It's not an arsenic-based life form. It's a bacterium that has managed to incorporate arsenic instead of phosphorus without having its biological machinery destroyed by the incorporation of a "not quite phosphorus" element. It's fantastic adaptation. Go evolution!

I kept thinking about Dr. Lenski's e coli experiment.
Hmm. So it is part of the same lineage.
Also, a link that works in Europe would be appreciated.
I watched in the u.k, live stream from NASA's own site with no problems.
Yay, I was quickly skimming pages to see if anyone beat me to this link. Thank you!

CNN cut the coverage only minutes into it. I want to learn more about the woman spokesman they had on first. I think most people won't understand the biological significance of the discovery, so as far as the masses are concerned, I like seeing non-nerdy looking smart people showing their passion and excitement for science. (She's not nerdy looking to me, anyway! Nerdy-looking's not a bad thing imho, so perhaps I have pretty skewed perceptions.)
I think it's in 15 minutes or so.

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