One man's trash (or deadly poison...)

One man's trash (or deadly poison...)

Postby Mikey » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:06 pm

Bacterium found which incorporates environmental arsenic.

"There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy."
"We've been over this. We don't shoot first and ask questions later."
"Of course! We never ask questions."
User avatar
Mikey
Fleet Admiral
Fleet Admiral
 
Posts: 33020
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2007 2:04 am
Location: down the shore, New Jersey, USA

Re: One man's trash (or deadly poison...)

Postby SolkaTruesilver » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:42 pm

Darn. When I heard NASA's department of Astrobiology would be issuing a statement this morning, I was hoping for some ET bacterias..

Oh well. A new structure of life form is still interesting. I hope they really juice out this discovery and can create nifty stuff with it.
SolkaTruesilver
Commander
Commander
 
Posts: 1406
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2007 1:49 am

Re: One man's trash (or deadly poison...)

Postby Nickswitz » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:52 pm

SolkaTruesilver wrote:Oh well. A new structure of life form is still interesting. I hope they really juice out this discovery and can create nifty stuff with it.


I hope they leave it alone and allow it to live where it does and not bother it too much, I mean is it cool, yeah, but does it really mean much besides the fact that humans really know very little about the world they live on, no, not really.
The world ended

"Insanity -- a perfectly rational adjustment to an insane world" - R.D.Lang
User avatar
Nickswitz
Rear Admiral
Rear Admiral
 
Posts: 6745
Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 4:34 pm
Location: Home

Re: One man's trash (or deadly poison...)

Postby Mikey » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:56 pm

Yeah, I don't know that this is something we need to harvest and dominate. It does mean, however, that we no longer need to limit the search for ET life to Earth-clone planets.
"We've been over this. We don't shoot first and ask questions later."
"Of course! We never ask questions."
User avatar
Mikey
Fleet Admiral
Fleet Admiral
 
Posts: 33020
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2007 2:04 am
Location: down the shore, New Jersey, USA

Re: One man's trash (or deadly poison...)

Postby SolkaTruesilver » Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:14 pm

What I meant, maybe such life structure could be reproduced in some biolabs, and with that, we could have entirely new brands of very interesting bacterias to work with in biology.

Such discovery, once properly understood, could very well revolutionnise bioengineering theories for the next years.

edit: "Juice it" = exploit the acquired knowledge to its full capacity, not the bacteria itself :mrgreen:
SolkaTruesilver
Commander
Commander
 
Posts: 1406
Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2007 1:49 am

Re: One man's trash (or deadly poison...)

Postby Tyyr » Tue Dec 07, 2010 1:39 pm

What this does is just keep expanding our definition of "life" and therefore the number of places we could find it. For a long time we assumed that life needed sunlight. Nope, you just need energy, the form is pretty much inconsequential. Need carbon... no wait, silicon could theoretically work almost as well. Well surely... shit, you can have a living thing that needs arsenic the way we need phosphorus.

At this point I think we'd probably be safest saying that so long as an energy source is present life is a possibility because it just keeps getting weirder.
User avatar
Tyyr
3 Star Admiral
3 Star Admiral
 
Posts: 10654
Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2009 9:49 pm
Location: Jeri Ryan's Dressing Room, Shhhhh

Re: One man's trash (or deadly poison...)

Postby Tsukiyumi » Tue Dec 07, 2010 2:29 pm

Tyyr wrote:At this point I think we'd probably be safest saying that so long as an energy source is present life is a possibility because it just keeps getting weirder.


Makes it way easier on us sci-fi writers. :lol:
There is only one way of avoiding the war – that is the overthrow of this society. However, as we are too weak for this task, the war is inevitable. -L. Trotsky, 1939
User avatar
Tsukiyumi
4 Star Admiral
4 Star Admiral
 
Posts: 21662
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 1:38 pm
Location: Forward Torpedo Tube Twenty. Help!

Re: One man's trash (or deadly poison...)

Postby Mikey » Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:05 am

What makes it weird (and wonderful) isn't that it needs arsenic instead of phosphorous... it's that this bacteria can use either depending on the environmental conditions.
"We've been over this. We don't shoot first and ask questions later."
"Of course! We never ask questions."
User avatar
Mikey
Fleet Admiral
Fleet Admiral
 
Posts: 33020
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2007 2:04 am
Location: down the shore, New Jersey, USA

Re: One man's trash (or deadly poison...)

Postby Sonic Glitch » Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:09 am

Mikey wrote:What makes it weird (and wonderful) isn't that it needs arsenic instead of phosphorous... it's that this bacteria can use either depending on the environmental conditions.

Yes.. about that
Linky

When NASA announced the discovery of an arsenic-eating microbe in a California lake last week, the agency hailed it as a suggestion that life as we know it, well, isn't life as we know it.

"We have cracked open the door to what is possible for life elsewhere in the universe," Felisa Wolfe-Simon of the NASA Astrobiology Institute and U.S. Geological Survey, who led the study, said at a news conference.


NASA's team of astrobiologists had taken samples of the bacteria from mineral-dense Lake Mono -- in a volcanic region of Northern California near the Nevada border -- and starved them of phosphate, the meal of choice for most DNA-based organisms. Instead, the scientists force-fed the bacteria a form of arsenic, and, much to the researchers' surprise, the bacteria continued to grow and flourish on their new diet of poison.

But then other scientists began digging into the paper outlining NASA's research and findings, and they're now charging that the research behind it is flawed.

"I was outraged at how bad the science was," University of British Columbia microbiology professor Rosie Redfield told Slate's Carl Zimmer. Redfield also posted a scathing critique of the report on her blog.

Redfield and other detractors point out that when NASA scientists removed the DNA from the bacteria for examination, they didn't take the steps necessary to wash away other types of molecules. That means, according to the critics, that the arsenic may have merely clung to the bacteria's DNA for a ride without becoming truly ingrained into it.

The report's detractors also note that the NASA scientists fed the bacteria salts that contained trace amounts of phosphate, so it's possible that the bacteria were able to survive on those tiny helpings of phosphate instead of the arsenic.

"This paper should not have been published," University of Colorado molecular biology professor Shelley Copley told Slate's Zimmer.

So why would NASA scientists make such a big deal out of a discovery that, according to critics, they must have suspected was questionable?

"I suspect that NASA may be so desperate for a positive story that they didn't look for any serious advice from DNA or even microbiology people," UC-Davis biology professor John Roth told Zimmer.

A NASA spokesperson brushed off the criticism. The paper's authors have not responded to the firestorm. Needless to say, that posture, too, has drawn the ire of critics. "That's kind of sleazy given how they cooperated with all the media hype before the paper was published," Redfield said.
"All this has happened before --"
"But it doesn't have to happen again. Not if we make up our minds to change. Take a different path. Right here, right now."
User avatar
Sonic Glitch
Rear Admiral
Rear Admiral
 
Posts: 5813
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 1:11 am
Location: Any ol' place here on Earth or in space. You pick the century and I'll pick the spot

Re: One man's trash (or deadly poison...)

Postby Mikey » Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:23 am

I'll reserve judgement on Redfield et. al. until I can see exactly how he observed the NASA lab work.
"We've been over this. We don't shoot first and ask questions later."
"Of course! We never ask questions."
User avatar
Mikey
Fleet Admiral
Fleet Admiral
 
Posts: 33020
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2007 2:04 am
Location: down the shore, New Jersey, USA


Return to Science, Philosophy and Theology

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest