NASA News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery: Arsenic biochemistry?

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NASA News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery: Arsenic biochemistry?

Post by Stalker on 29th November 2010, 5:32 pm

WASHINGTON -- NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=32155

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Re: NASA News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery: Arsenic biochemistry?

Post by Sirius_Alpha on 29th November 2010, 5:54 pm

ORLY??
Let the wild specuation begin! Laughing

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Re: NASA News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery: Arsenic biochemistry?

Post by Lazarus on 29th November 2010, 6:07 pm

My prediction is there will be lots of frustrated people on the internet venting their fury at NASA for hyping a discovery which is not the discovery of actual alien life.


Last edited by Lazarus on 29th November 2010, 6:14 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: NASA News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery: Arsenic biochemistry?

Post by Sirius_Alpha on 29th November 2010, 6:12 pm

Agreed. Sensationalist pre-reporting "NASA to announce contact with ET"-type stories isn't going to help.

I'm guessing something like some amino acids were found, perhaps in a nebula somewhere.

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Re: NASA News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery: Arsenic biochemistry?

Post by Lazarus on 29th November 2010, 6:15 pm

IIRC amino acids have already been found in space, so I'm guessing that isn't it...

Does seem to be a lot of molecular biology people on the list of participants though.

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Re: NASA News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery: Arsenic biochemistry?

Post by Stalker on 30th November 2010, 2:08 am

I'm looking at the illustration and i think it is about the condition of the birthing of life or panspermia.

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Re: NASA News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery: Arsenic biochemistry?

Post by Lazarus on 30th November 2010, 4:39 pm

Phil Plait's take on the press conference announcement is on the Bad Astronomy blog. Already the angry people are venting their fury in the comments and the news release hasn't even happened yet, so I guess my predictive powers are in pretty good shape Smile

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Re: NASA News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery: Arsenic biochemistry?

Post by Sirius_Alpha on 30th November 2010, 6:18 pm

From Spaceref
Reliable sources within the Astrobiology community tell me that the announcement does indeed concern Arsenic-based biochemistry and the implications for the origin of life on Earth, how it may have happened more than once on our planet, and the implications for life arising elsewhere in the universe.

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Re: NASA News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery: Arsenic biochemistry?

Post by Lazarus on 30th November 2010, 6:51 pm

I wonder if it has anything to do with this?

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Re: NASA News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery: Arsenic biochemistry?

Post by Sirius_Alpha on 30th November 2010, 7:34 pm

Great find!

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Re: NASA News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery: Arsenic biochemistry?

Post by Lazarus on 1st December 2010, 6:03 pm

So yeah, I reckon it is probably going to be a bunch of archaea (which are the usual suspects in this kind of thing) which have stumbled on a neat chemical trick. More interesting would be incontrovertible indications of a truly separate "shadow biosphere" which would indicate multiple origin of life events on Earth.

We shall see...

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Re: NASA News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery: Arsenic biochemistry?

Post by Lazarus on 2nd December 2010, 2:28 pm

NASA news release

Bacteria in Mono Lake which appear to be able to incorporate lots of arsenic into their biochemistry, perhaps including their DNA.

Also worth taking a read of this blog post at Not Exactly Rocket Science

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Re: NASA News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery: Arsenic biochemistry?

Post by Sirius_Alpha on 3rd December 2010, 2:42 pm

A more light-hearted look at the story.
http://xkcd.com/829/
(be sure to read the mouseover text)

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Re: NASA News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery: Arsenic biochemistry?

Post by Lazarus on 3rd December 2010, 3:59 pm

Well for once I agree with the "NASA was misleading about the press release" people. This is certainly an interesting discovery, but its relevance to astrobiology isn't so clear. Certainly it is interesting to know that life can adapt to highly arsenic-rich niches but this doesn't provide much of a clue towards the abiogenesis process.

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Re: NASA News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery: Arsenic biochemistry?

Post by Sirius_Alpha on 3rd December 2010, 4:39 pm

I agree that it doesn't shed mugh light on the abiogenesis process, though I think the impied notion was more a matter of adaptability. Sort of a "If life can do this to survive, it widens the range of enviornments where it might be found."

Though of course whether or not this is a strong argument depends on whether life can arise in that kind environment in the first place, or if this microbe just got lucky.

Are extremophiles the product of adapting to extreme conditions through adaptation? (began in a gooey pool, for example)
Or did they start as extremophiles and adapt to what we consider normal? (began near hydrothermal events, for example)

Edit: (Apr 3, 2011), updated the thread title.


Last edited by Sirius_Alpha on 3rd April 2011, 6:55 pm; edited 1 time in total

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