Thursday, December 02, 2010

Arsenic and Old Life, Part II

NASA confirmed that its big announcement this week was about life - a new species of bacteria from a California lake - that uses arsenic instead of the phosphorus present in every known species of everything in the five kingdoms of life.
"The definition of life has just expanded," said Ed Weiler, NASA's associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at the agency's Headquarters in Washington. "As we pursue our efforts to seek signs of life in the solar system, we have to think more broadly, more diversely and consider life as we do not know it."
COMMENT: OK, so it was not E.T. And it's not quite as strange as, say, Star Trek's silicon-based Horta. But it's unprecedented evidence that life can be weirder than we thought.

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