NASA shares news of freaky microbes at press conferenceby Cherlyn Gardner Strong on Dec. 02, 2010, under Extraterrestrials, UFO News, UFOs
NASA’s press conference revealed some freaky science today. Until now, it was thought that phosphorus, along with carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and sulfur, were essential for “life as we know it”.
Arsenic sits below phosphorus on the periodic table and shares many of its chemical properties. So, Dr. Felisa Wolf-Simon, a NASA astrobiology fellow at the United States Geological Survey in California, led an experiment to see if arsenic could replace phosphorus in bacterium. This bacterium was scraped from Mono Lake in California and grown for months in a lab mixture containing arsenic.
Their discovery opens up the possibility that organisms could exist elsewhere in the universe, using “biochemical powers we have not yet dared to dream about.” The bacterium was successfully trained to eat and grow on a diet consisting of arsenic in place of phosphorus.
The New York Times included this snippet in their article, which gives us something to chew on:
Gerald Joyce, a chemist and molecular biologist at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., said the work “shows in principle that you could have a different form of life,” but noted that even these bacteria are affixed to the same tree of life as the rest of us, like the extremophiles that exist in ocean vents.
“It’s a really nice story about adaptability of our life form,” he said. “It gives food for thought about what might be possible in another world.”
Despite this taste for arsenic, the authors also reported, the GFAJ-1 strain grew considerably better when provided with phosphorus, so in some ways they still prefer a phosphorus diet. Dr. Joyce, from his reading of the paper, concurred, pointing out that there was still some phosphorus in the bacterium even after all its force-feeding with arsenic. He described it as “clinging to every last phosphate molecule, and really living on the edge.”
Dr. Joyce added, “I was feeling sorry for the bugs.” [READ THE FULL NY TIMES ARTICLE HERE]
I feel sorry for the bugs, too.
In an interesting reactionary post, Bryce Zabel, co-author of A.D.: After Disclosure, weighed in with his opinion of today’s conference:
Dear NASA… We like the Super-Tough Microbes, Yes, But…
Sometimes you just feel like you need to pull your fists out of the ceiling.
NASA should know better, and may, but still pretends it doesn’t. Meanwhile, the ruling elite of the media buy the whole story.
That story — today’s edition — concerns some microbes that can exist in the extremely salty, alkaline, arsenic-rich body of water in eastern California that’s known as Mono Lake. This stew should kill most living things, crushing any primitive will to live completely. This new life form uses arsenic in place of phosphorus to build DNA and proteins. Because Mono Lake is such an inhospitable environment for life, the storyline goes, this means that maybe we can find life in some places we might never have thought to look before. READ THE REST OF ZABEL’S POST
Copyright © 2010 Cherlyn Gardner Strong
Read more of Cherlyn’s posts at her Paranormal Old Pueblo website