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NASA DISCOVERS NEW FORM OF LIFE

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Deanna Witmer
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« on: December 02, 2010, 01:08:09 pm »

NASA DISCOVERS NEW FORM OF LIFE

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Deanna Witmer
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« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2010, 01:11:11 pm »

NASA Discovers New Life! Arsenic Bacteria With DNA Completely Alien To What We Know The Huffington Post   |  Nicholas Graham
First Posted: 12- 2-10 12:48 PM   |   Updated: 12- 2-10 02:04 PM

***SCROLL DOWN FOR LIVE UPDATES***

NASA is holding a press conference today at 2pm to announce a major finding in their research in the field of astrobiology and speculation has reached a fever pitch after the agency said the finding "will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life."

The news has leaked now, and while the discovery is not extraterrestrial life, NASA has indeed uncovered an entirely new life form on our planet that "doesn't share the biological building blocks of anything currently living" on Earth, Gizmodo reports.

Discovered in the poisonous Mono Lake, California, this bacteria is made of arsenic, something that was thought to be completely impossible. While she and other scientists theorized that this could be possible, this is the first discovery. The implications of this discovery are enormous to our understanding of life itself and the possibility of finding beings in other planets that don't have to be like planet Earth.
One of the scientists set to speak at the conference today, Felisa Wolfe-Simon, had written a paper "Did Nature also choose arsenic?" earlier this year wondering if that element could also be a foundation for life:

We hypothesize that ancient biochemical systems, analogous to but distinct from those known today, could have utilized arsenate in the equivalent biological role as phosphate.
Organisms utilizing such 'weird life' biochemical pathways may have supported a 'shadow biosphere' at the time of the origin and early evolution of life on Earth or on other planets.

Such organisms may even persist on Earth today, undetected, in unusual niches.


It would seem her theory is correct. In March of this year the London Times had a fascinating report on Wolfe-Simon's research at Lake Mono:

She points out that Mono Lake arsenic life, if found, may only go as far as proving the extreme adaptability of life on Earth billions of years ago. It is generally agreed that on early Earth the chemical soup was very different because of the material being thrown out of the planet's depths by volcanoes and hydrothermal vents and the lack of biologically derived oxygen. If arsenic was around in far greater concentrations then, perhaps "arsenolife", as she calls it, in Mono Lake is evidence of that ancestral life, a finding that would deepen our understanding of how life on Earth got started.


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Deanna Witmer
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« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2010, 01:17:42 pm »

There will be other scientists at the news conference. Jason Kottke gives a rundown on each of them and their expertise here.

Science Magazine, in which Wolfe-Simon and colleagues' article "A Bacterium That Can
Grow by Using Arsenic Instead of Phosphorous" will appear, has released this YouTube video offering a brief explanation of the piece.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/02/nasa-new-life-arsenic-bacteria_n_791094.html

The NASA press conference has started.

The lead scientist behind the research Dr. Lisa Wolfe-Simon says, "This microbe is doing something different than what we know."



She adds, "We've cracked open the door for what's possible for life elsewhere in the universe. and that's profound to understand how life is formed and where life is going."
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Deanna Witmer
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« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2010, 01:18:22 pm »

What The Bacteria Looks LikeHere's a picture of the bacteria:

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