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(Discover)   Yes, the NASA news is about bacteria that live off arsenic. But for once, here's the actual science and why this is so cool   (blogs.discovermagazine.com) divider line 156
    More: Followup, RNA, Thank You So Much, human hair, Jeff Goldblum, NASA, science education, ocean waters, Mono Lake  
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16973 clicks; posted to Main » on 02 Dec 2010 at 4:30 PM (4 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2010-12-02 07:26:33 PM  
hitlersbrain: I think we will find that life needs a pretty standard environment to get started or we would have seen evidence of extraterrestrial life by now.

cdn-www.dailypuppy.com

How many extraterrestrial planets have we checked for non-"standard" life again?
 
2010-12-02 07:27:13 PM  
I've seen human lifeforms that eat arse.
 
2010-12-02 07:27:21 PM  
i4.ytimg.com

It's a garbage pod!
IT'S A SMEGGING GARBAGE POD!!
 
2010-12-02 07:33:14 PM  
jagec: extraterrestrial planets

As opposed to terrestrial planets?
 
2010-12-02 07:35:11 PM  
So for less than a few trillion dollars over 40 years, we can find a lake with alien like life.

How amazing, we waste all this money just to still find cool shiat on earth.

Waste waste waste.
 
2010-12-02 07:46:38 PM  
Grobbley: jagec: extraterrestrial planets

As opposed to terrestrial planets?


Yes, extraterrestrial planet="planet beyond the planet Earth", just like extraterrestrial life = "life beyond the planet Earth"
 
2010-12-02 07:47:45 PM  
Can we use these to remediate arsenic-contaminated soil and groundwater? Soil with a pH of 10 is not common, but it's not exactly rare in contaminated sites.
 
2010-12-02 07:50:01 PM  
I would say that bacteria that live in the San Andreas Tar pits without light, air, or water are a bit more impressive.
 
2010-12-02 07:51:17 PM  
Came for Farkers arguing with NASA's findings/conclusions. Leaving satisfied and amused.

/flaunt those PHDs guys
//you don't have PHDs?
///damn...the guys as NASA do.
 
2010-12-02 07:58:48 PM  
Erix: Whiskey Priest:
You're right. They were correct to be conservative in their hypothesis. My statement about NASA being ignorant to other possibilities was hyperbole. I only meant to say that when there's news about "Earth-like" planets being discovered, it's made to sound like these are the only ones we can look at to find extraterrestrial life. As in we only get to speculate about the possibility if we find water and oxygen.

I know this was a NASA funded study. And I'm sure the endgame is to prove that you DON'T need precisely the traditional building blocks for life to occur. Now they can show cause for looking at non-Earthlike planets.

Gotcha. Sorry to jump on that. Hyperbolize away.


No worries, it helped me think through my point, anyway.
 
2010-12-02 08:06:04 PM  
Anyone else annoyed by the constant public expectation that every new NASA announcement "related to the search for life in the cosmos" will involve Pandora/N'avi/Vulcans/etc?

Our expectations have been so inflated by scifi that legitimately exciting findings of this type are dismissed by most as boring. As if nothing NASA can find that isn't little green men will satisfy. Everyone wants intelligent alien life or at least some type of living alien critter and anything else is not worth their attention. >:|
 
2010-12-02 08:08:10 PM  
jagec: Grobbley: jagec: extraterrestrial planets

As opposed to terrestrial planets?

Yes, extraterrestrial planet="planet beyond the planet Earth", just like extraterrestrial life = "life beyond the planet Earth"


Link (new window)

My favorite terrestrial planets are extraterrestrial terrestrial planets.

/"Extraterrestrial planets" seems mostly redundant to me, but whatever.
 
2010-12-02 08:10:35 PM  
Grobbley: jagec: Grobbley: jagec: extraterrestrial planets

As opposed to terrestrial planets?

Yes, extraterrestrial planet="planet beyond the planet Earth", just like extraterrestrial life = "life beyond the planet Earth"

Link (new window)

My favorite terrestrial planets are extraterrestrial terrestrial planets.

/"Extraterrestrial planets" seems mostly redundant to me, but whatever.


I bet you get annoyed when a spacecraft maneuver is described as "reentry" into an atmosphere they never left in the first place?

It's just... "entry".
 
2010-12-02 08:13:14 PM  
Zamboro: Anyone else annoyed by the constant public expectation that every new NASA announcement "related to the search for life in the cosmos" will involve Pandora/N'avi/Vulcans/etc?

Our expectations have been so inflated by scifi that legitimately exciting findings of this type are dismissed by most as boring. As if nothing NASA can find that isn't little green men will satisfy. Everyone wants intelligent alien life or at least some type of living alien critter and anything else is not worth their attention. >:|


I suspect when we do discover extraterrestrial life which most likely will not be intelligent, the general response will be about the same.
 
2010-12-02 08:17:26 PM  
Oznog: Grobbley: jagec: Grobbley: jagec: extraterrestrial planets

As opposed to terrestrial planets?

Yes, extraterrestrial planet="planet beyond the planet Earth", just like extraterrestrial life = "life beyond the planet Earth"

Link (new window)

My favorite terrestrial planets are extraterrestrial terrestrial planets.

/"Extraterrestrial planets" seems mostly redundant to me, but whatever.

I bet you get annoyed when a spacecraft maneuver is described as "reentry" into an atmosphere they never left in the first place?

It's just... "entry".


If they never left the atmosphere in the first place, it's neither an entry nor a reentry into said atmosphere.
 
2010-12-02 08:37:14 PM  
Who's going to give me a big high-five for breaking this "news" in the last thread (before the reveal)?
 
2010-12-02 08:37:27 PM  
I have incorporated ethanol into my biochemistry. So I have that going for me. Which is nice.
 
2010-12-02 08:39:36 PM  
OddObject: Came for Farkers arguing with NASA's findings/conclusions. Leaving satisfied and amused.

/flaunt those PHDs guys
//you don't have PHDs?
///damn...the guys as NASA do.


Oh good grief. Only someone without a PhD would say something that callow.
 
2010-12-02 08:40:17 PM  
img138.imageshack.us
Approves
 
2010-12-02 09:07:50 PM  
my guess is when we find life on another planet it will be some strange self organizing system that we don't really understand. There are lots of ways to create self reproducing systems (look at cellular automata in computers, for example). I bet on other planets we might find really strange large networks of self organizing systems that could be powered by just about anything. I bet titan might have some strange carbon based systems in its bodies of liquid methane.
 
2010-12-02 09:18:50 PM  
Grobbley: Oznog: Grobbley: jagec: Grobbley: jagec: extraterrestrial planets

As opposed to terrestrial planets?

Yes, extraterrestrial planet="planet beyond the planet Earth", just like extraterrestrial life = "life beyond the planet Earth"

Link (new window)

My favorite terrestrial planets are extraterrestrial terrestrial planets.

/"Extraterrestrial planets" seems mostly redundant to me, but whatever.

I bet you get annoyed when a spacecraft maneuver is described as "reentry" into an atmosphere they never left in the first place?

It's just... "entry".

If they never left the atmosphere in the first place, it's neither an entry nor a reentry into said atmosphere.


I think he means like when a mars probe enters mars' atmosphere. It left earth's atmosphere, then it enters mars'. It is therefore an entry of mars' atmosphere, not a reentry.
 
2010-12-02 09:25:38 PM  
scifarker: my guess is when we find life on another planet it will be some strange self organizing system that we don't really understand.

This.

We may indeed find extraterrestrial cellular life forms, possibly with proteins and amino acids and all that fun stuff we learned about in HS bio class. Or, we may find some bizarre composition of matter that has little or nothing in common with "life as we know it". We may even find something that we don't realize is alive until it deciphers our radio chatter and makes contact on it's own.
 
2010-12-02 09:25:52 PM  
Kumana Wanalaia: Grobbley: Oznog: Grobbley: jagec: Grobbley: jagec: extraterrestrial planets

As opposed to terrestrial planets?

Yes, extraterrestrial planet="planet beyond the planet Earth", just like extraterrestrial life = "life beyond the planet Earth"

Link (new window)

My favorite terrestrial planets are extraterrestrial terrestrial planets.

/"Extraterrestrial planets" seems mostly redundant to me, but whatever.

I bet you get annoyed when a spacecraft maneuver is described as "reentry" into an atmosphere they never left in the first place?

It's just... "entry".

If they never left the atmosphere in the first place, it's neither an entry nor a reentry into said atmosphere.

I think he means like when a mars probe enters mars' atmosphere. It left earth's atmosphere, then it enters mars'. It is therefore an entry of mars' atmosphere, not a reentry.


Ah, that makes sense.
 
2010-12-02 09:30:05 PM  
scifarker Quote 2010-12-02 09:07:50 PM
my guess is when we find life on another planet it will be some strange self organizing system that we don't really understand. There are lots of ways to create self reproducing systems (look at cellular automata in computers, for example). I bet on other planets we might find really strange large networks of self organizing systems that could be powered by just about anything. I bet titan might have some strange carbon based systems in its bodies of liquid methane.


>>>>

That's how the aliens felt when stumbling upon the strange and ignorant creatures of Earth.
 
2010-12-02 09:39:21 PM  
We can only find intelligent life that is atleast less intelligent than us.
 
2010-12-02 09:42:56 PM  
Good start. Maybe they can find a way to make the water in Albuquerque drinkable.
 
2010-12-02 09:48:45 PM  
disarticulate: We can only find intelligent life that is atleast less intelligent than us.

And at most?
 
2010-12-02 09:52:10 PM  
The Saturday Night Massacre: Approves

CHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGE!!!
 
2010-12-02 09:58:55 PM  
www.raumwerk.de

Approves
 
2010-12-02 10:12:24 PM  
StopLurkListen: Fark needs a PHIL PLAIT tag.

[DISCOVER]. You ever see a Discover link here that didn't go to bad astronomy?
 
2010-12-02 10:13:43 PM  
Fuggin Bizzy: StopLurkListen: Fark needs a PHIL PLAIT tag.

[DISCOVER]. You ever see a Discover link here that didn't go to bad astronomy?


Aaand I'm a quick-posting dumbass. Logo != Tag. Please to be ignoring me.
 
2010-12-02 10:30:01 PM  
I think that one problem with Science is that "it" is impossible until proven otherwise.

I think the assumption should be the other way around - everything is possible until proven otherwise.

There should be no such thing as "overturning a scientific assumption."

Given how little we really know about the universe, it just doesn't make sense to approach knowledge with a pessimistic approach. Because we shut our minds down to possibilities.

And possibilities are how magic happens. Perhaps, just perhaps, if we had assumed possibilities like this arsenic thing, maybe it would've opened biological/medical doors previously thought to not exist.

Then again, I'm retarded.

/derp
 
2010-12-02 10:36:51 PM  
i277.photobucket.com
//What an alien lifeform may look like
 
2010-12-02 10:52:29 PM  
PlatypusPuke:

I think that one problem with Science is that "it" is impossible until proven otherwise.

I think the assumption should be the other way around - everything is possible until proven otherwise.


I think you might have it backward, actually. Science is the process of winnowing out what *is* from what *might be*, not a process where you say nothing exists until proven otherwise.

Case in point: They theorized that there might be critters that could use arsenic in place of phosphorous, they made some educated guesses on how to find such a creature, and they managed to find one.

But they started with a "what if."

What might have led you to your conclusion is another aspect of science... That it's fine to theorize anything you like, but until you provide evidence it's not considered fact.
 
2010-12-02 11:03:19 PM  
PlatypusPuke: I think that one problem with Science is that "it" is impossible until proven otherwise.

I think the assumption should be the other way around - everything is possible until proven otherwise.

There should be no such thing as "overturning a scientific assumption."

Given how little we really know about the universe, it just doesn't make sense to approach knowledge with a pessimistic approach. Because we shut our minds down to possibilities.

And possibilities are how magic happens. Perhaps, just perhaps, if we had assumed possibilities like this arsenic thing, maybe it would've opened biological/medical doors previously thought to not exist.

Then again, I'm retarded.

/derp


Pretty much. Here's a good video on open-mindedness (new window).
 
2010-12-02 11:04:55 PM  
So, we've found live that lives off Arsenic in Old Lakes?

/tryin' hard to sound like Gary Cooper
//try the veal
 
2010-12-02 11:13:05 PM  
live life

Apparently my brain is trying to live off of arsenic at the moment.
 
2010-12-02 11:26:13 PM  
Broom: Tommathy: What I'm curious about is just how much phosphate can these organisms replace with phosphate. They've confirmed the replacement of phosphate for arsenic in the nucleotides, but how about the energy transport molecules?

adenosine triarsenate anyone?

From the article:
To determine this, Dr. Wolfe-Simon took samples of the microbes, adding more and more arsenic while decreasing the amount of phosphorus in their environment to essentially zero. This would kill almost everything known to man, yet these little critters thrived.

If this is accurate, they can reproduce freely in a phosphorus-free environment, and that would require life with every phosphorus molecule in the cells replaced. If this is accurate.


That's exactly what their claiming, which is just amazing if you're a biochemist. Phosphate bonds, besides being the backbone of DNA and RNA, are the currency for energy in cells, so its possible that this critter has a bunch of specialized genes to deal with the change.
I don't think this has much to do with alien life though.
 
2010-12-02 11:38:41 PM  
Animatronik:

I don't think this has much to do with alien life though.

Given that we don't have any alien life to study quite yet, a lot of the focus in exobiology is figuring out where exactly to look.

That's why most exobiologists are involved with extremophiles and critters like this. They help define the boundaries for where we can expect to find life.
 
2010-12-02 11:54:09 PM  
Tommathy: What I'm curious about is just how much phosphate can these organisms replace with phosphate. They've confirmed the replacement of phosphate for arsenic in the nucleotides, but how about the energy transport molecules?

adenosine triarsenate anyone?


ATS... the workout supplement for all alien lifeforms, ahhh crap, GNC has already patented it.
 
2010-12-03 12:04:33 AM  
Sorry, I meant ATA, the A & S are right next to each other on my keyboard.

stupid qwerty...
 
2010-12-03 12:15:22 AM  
maxheck: Animatronik:

I don't think this has much to do with alien life though.

Given that we don't have any alien life to study quite yet, a lot of the focus in exobiology is figuring out where exactly to look.

That's why most exobiologists are involved with extremophiles and critters like this. They help define the boundaries for where we can expect to find life.


Well that's not particularly useful for finding and characterizing alien life that doesn't use our genetic or metabolic chemistry, because this is just an adaptation of our chemistry (however remarkable). At this point no one would be surprised to find bacteria living in a toxic hostile environment, what's surprising is that they have an amazing adaptation of our chemistry at the lowest level (if true).

Exobiology = interesting B.S.
 
2010-12-03 12:46:31 AM  
Animatronik:

Exobiology = interesting B.S.

It does have real-world applications to NASA though. If you're sending a probe to Mars or wherever and trying to design a life-detection suite, you need to know what to look for.

The Viking landers 30+ years ago had what now seems like an absurdly naive experiment... Basically they brought some dirt into the lander, sprinkled it on some dishes of growth medium, gave it a warm & (relatively) wet environment, then looked for CO2.

Now we know that a lot of organisms would actually be killed by such treatment rather than thriving, and that not everything would put out a CO2 signature like most of the life we were familiar with at the time.

This new discovery applies as well. Does it have different waste products? How would we look for a As-using organism by indirect means?

It's a small piece of the puzzle. Obviously it's a bigger deal in general biochemistry, but still important to NASA.
 
2010-12-03 01:15:58 AM  
PlatypusPuke: I think that one problem with Science is that "it" is impossible until proven otherwise.

I think the assumption should be the other way around - everything is possible until proven otherwise.

There should be no such thing as "overturning a scientific assumption."

Given how little we really know about the universe, it just doesn't make sense to approach knowledge with a pessimistic approach. Because we shut our minds down to possibilities.

And possibilities are how magic happens. Perhaps, just perhaps, if we had assumed possibilities like this arsenic thing, maybe it would've opened biological/medical doors previously thought to not exist.

Then again, I'm retarded.

/derp


The assumption is what you make it. A lot of scientists assume everything is impossible until proven, but you are right that it is not the optimal way of going about things. Most scientists like that are not very successful, mostly because research requires child-like creativity at times. You have to throw out old assumptions to discover new things.

The whole reason they found this was because they considered the fact that arsenic could potentially take the place of phosphorous because of its atomic properties and went looking in a place with a lot of arsenic. There are similar theories that there could be silicon based lifeforms rather than carbon based lifeforms, for similar reasons. Not all scientists are pessimists.
 
2010-12-03 01:22:59 AM  
Another interesting article here:

Link

This discovery is apparently also startling because it was so easy. This twenty-something scientist found what they were looking for on the first try.

I get the impression that nobody discovered life like this before because nobody was dumb enough to look for life that didn't require phosphorus before. The implication is that there could be a lot more "alien" life to be found if you just ignore the rules about where life can be found.
 
2010-12-03 03:03:06 AM  
TofuTheAlmighty: Dammit, they don't "live off" arsenic - they're still carbon-based.

And.. that has what to do with what this thing "lives off" of?

/There's more than one thing.
 
2010-12-03 05:12:17 AM  
Thank Fark for Nasa and its attention-whoring.

2008 BBC article (new window)

Old news is so exciting...

/The "news" was actually published in Nature in 2008
 
2010-12-03 06:18:33 AM  
I´m much more into physical chemical stuff, but I have to say my favourite chemistry class was inorganic because of stuff like this.
 
2010-12-03 06:33:54 AM  
Did the author seriously use the word "frak"?
 
2010-12-03 08:32:25 AM  
Dancis_Frake: Thank Fark for Nasa and its attention-whoring.

2008 BBC article (new window)

Old news is so exciting...

/The "news" was actually published in Nature in 2008


Very different story. One uses As in a chemical pathway, while the other actually incorporates it into it's structure in place of P.
 
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