Friday, December 3, 2010

Arsenic-based life

Earlier this week a friend of mine posted on facebook about an exciting astrobiology-related announcement NASA was about to make once the embargo was lifted. He was very excited about it, but also very, "I can neither confirm nor deny." Not that his refusal to hint anything deterred any of us from posting wild speculation, from creating new life (d-aminos and l-sugars?) to new models that predict the energetics of life on Titan.

Yesterday, it was announced bacteria capable of using arsenic in place of phosphorus was discovered in Mono lake. Mono lake (which is extremely basic) hosts a number of bacteria capable of living off weird elements (tungsten, and now apparently arsenic) because it has such weird chemistry. Apparently, some people were disappointed.

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