New form of life discovered by NASA research

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New form of life discovered by NASA research

Postby IJ » Fri Dec 03, 2010 8:09 pm

Bacteria incorporates arsenic in place of phosphorous. Kind cool.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101203/ts ... ogybiology

Superdorks and or older folks may remember Captain Kirk realizing that an alien life form needed cement to close a wound because it was silicon rather than carbon based.
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Postby Jason Rees » Fri Dec 03, 2010 10:48 pm

But I guess the question is, whether it would have fed off the arsenic initially, rather than adapting to it after feeding off its original food source.

Still, a pretty cool finding. I tweeted about this a couple days ago.
Life begins & ends cold, naked & covered in crap.
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Postby Bill Glasheen » Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:43 am

It is indeed cool, and it is not at all shocking (to me). But then I was an organic chemistry geek in undergrad, and understood my periodic table of the elements.

It is also true that life theoretically can be something other than carbon-based. Carbon isn't the only element that can form covalent bonds. Just as arsenic is in the same family as phosphorous, so too is silicon in the same family as carbon (per Ian's Star Trek reference).

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Postby IJ » Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:21 am

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothetic ... ochemistry

Si, unfortunately, doesn't work as well as carbon in producing a variety of complex compounds, and it's also difficult to imagine exhaling sand as a metabolic product, as SiO2 would be the new CO2. A life form using Si instead of C would have to find a way around those speedbumps.
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