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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.
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.
I don't know whether the authors are just bad scientists or whether they're unscrupulously pushing NASA's 'There's life in outer space!' agenda. I hesitate to blame the reviewers, as their objections are likely to have been overruled by Science's editors in their eagerness to score such a high-impact publication.
Originally posted by CanadianDream420
it''s not life.. it was never life.. there may be microbes from water/ice from meteorites but there is no intelligent life out there.. anywheres.. know how i know?..
there isn't any intelligent life even here.
A firestorm has erupted over the online publication in Science of the discovery of bacteria that use arsenic instead of phosphorus in their DNA. In response, the paper’s lead author, Felisa Wolfe-Simon, based at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California, has put a statement on her Web site:
Originally posted by Electric Crown
all I hear about on here is how the government is trying to keep secret the existance of aliens, and now they are also trying to fabricate their (possible) existance?
some of you, and you know who you are, need to quit stradling the fence.
Steven Benner, an astrobiologist at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, told me he was unconvinced. He was invited to Washington today to lay out the skeptical view during a much-hyped news conference at NASA Headquarters. "I'm the guy they bring in to throw the wet blanket over all the enthusiasm," he joked.
He was impressed by the finding that bacteria could get by with so little phosphorus and so much arsenic, but he questioned the conclusion that the arsenic was truly taking the place of phosphorus. Benner explained that chemists have long been familiar with the properties of arsenate compounds. "We know, for example, that they fall apart in water quickly," he said. "Those structures are not going to survive in water."
Originally posted by Arbitrageur So if anyone really watched and paid attention to the announcement, the opposing viewpoint was already presented at the time of the announcement. Some people seem to overlook that fact or didn't know the full contents of the announcement.
After several microbiologists analyzed the NASA paper and its methodology, they concluded that laboratory errors caused NASA scientists to think the microbes did not use phosphorus.
In fact, says Harvard microbiologist Alex Bradley, the NASA scientists unknowingly demonstrated the flaws in their own experiment. They immersed the DNA in water as they analyzed it, he points out. Arsenic compounds fall apart quickly in water, so if it really was in the microbe’s genes, it should have broken into fragments, Bradley wrote Sunday in a guest post on the blog We, Beasties. But the DNA remained in large chunks—presumably because it was made of durable phosphate. Bradley got his Ph.D. under MIT professor Roger Summons, who co-authored the 2007 weird-life report. Summons backs his former student’s critique.
But how could the bacteria be using phosphate when they weren’t getting any in the lab? That was the point of the experiment, after all. It turns out the NASA scientists were feeding the bacteria salts which they freely admit were contaminated with a tiny amount of phosphate. It’s possible, the critics argue, that the bacteria eked out a living on that scarce supply. As Bradley notes, the Sargasso Sea supports plenty of microbes while containing 300 times less phosphate than was present in the lab cultures.
It was hailed as a discovery that would have massive implications for the search for life on other planets. But Nasa’s announcement that it discovered a form of bacteria in a Californian lake that could survive on arsenic has come in for serious criticism from top scientists. In a hugely-anticipated press conference last week, Nasa scientists said they had discovered a form of 'weird life' that was able to thrive on arsenic - and even incorporate it into their DNA.
But scientists who have read the research paper on which the announcement was based have claimed that the science that led to the 'discovery' contained some serious flaws.
Rosie Redfield, a microbiology professor at the University of British Columbia, says she is ‘outraged at how bad the science was’.