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  1. #1

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    Default Aliens! NASA finds Arsenic-based life form.

    Wow, this is really cool stuff! I've been saying for years that its dumb to think we know everything there is to know about sustainable life. Before the discovery of ocean thermal vents, scientists thought there was no way any plants could survive that deep w/o sunlight!

    ------------------
    NASA scientists discover all-new form of life

    NASA scientists have discovered an entirely new form of life that shares no biological building blocks with anything currently known on Earth, the agency said today.

    In a press conference held at NASA's Washington D.C. headquarters, scientists announced that they had discovered a new form of bacteria, known as GFAJ-1, in California's Mono Lake that has DNA completely foreign to anything ever before found on Earth. It substitutes arsenic at the DNA level for phosphorus.

    That would distinguish it from every other form of life known to man, all of which, no matter how diverse, is comprised of the same six elements, phosphorus, sulfur, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. But the bacteria found in Mono Lake--which is known for its unusual chemistry, including very high levels of salinity, alkalinity, and arsenic--is made partly of arsenic, and has no phosphorus in its DNA.

    "We've discovered an organism that can substitute one element for another," said Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a NASA astrobiology research fellow at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif. "We've cracked open the door to what's possible for life elsewhere in the universe.

    Although there had been speculation that NASA's announcement would revolve around life--perhaps bacteria--found elsewhere, such as Mars, the news does keep us here on Earth.

    Click link for the rest.
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  2. #2
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    Just a quick question from someone who is not a scientist? Is this nothing more than speculation? Is it not a statement that says, since we have found a new life form here, it could be a viable conclusion that it would survive else where?

    I am not saying life cannot exist in other places throughout the Universe, it does not take the introduction of a new life form to make that conclusion. But what this seems like is an agenda. Maybe even NASA trying to pique interest in their work to illicit funding?
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  3. #3
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    what it shows looks minor to a layman , but to a science geek it shows that life in fact is not dependant on certain circumstances such as oxygen rich environments or certain elements. this means that it is now virtually certain there is life elsewhere and that is huge news. btw its elicit, illicit means something wrong.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rymanofthenorth View Post
    what it shows looks minor to a layman , but to a science geek it shows that life in fact is not dependant on certain circumstances such as oxygen rich environments or certain elements. this means that it is now virtually certain there is life elsewhere and that is huge news. btw its elicit, illicit means something wrong.
    Seems like a marketing ploy to me since it proves nothing. It merely provides limited support for another theory. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't they show that there was water on Mars? This suggests there is/was a potential for life there. It does not prove there was life. I am not saying there is no other life forms in the universe, but this seems to be much ado about raising money. NASA is desperate for funding and any news that suggests progress and the need for more exploration is a great way to drum up some funding.


    And thanks for the grammar lesson, but if you intend to correct my grammar, please use proper grammar yourself. For weeks now as a member of this board, you have insisted on writing without capitalizing at the beginning of sentences, yet you feel the need to correct me on the misuse of a word?

    Look, I have enjoyed much of what you've had to say, I have agreed with some, I have disagreed as well, we have ribbed you in fun about your Northern roots, but along the way I have not felt the need to correct your grammar and I will politely ask you to refrain from feeling the need to correct mine. It is not your place. When you do this, especially in a thread such as this, you are placing more value your intelligence than anyone else's, a tactic you seem to use a lot when trying to make your point.

    I am not trying to get into a confrontation with you Ryman, I simply ask you to consider your own mistakes before you correct others.
    Last edited by Elephant; 12-02-10 at 09:02 PM.
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  5. #5

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    Is no one else surprised that NASA is involved in investigating bacteria in some obscure California lake? I understand a discovery like this might have implications for the likelihood of life on other planets, but I don't understand why NASA would be the organization involved in this discovery???

    Somebody educate me.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elephant View Post
    Seems like a marketing ploy to me since it proves nothing. It merely provides limited support for another theory. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't they show that there was water on Mars? This suggests there is/was a potential for life there. It does not prove there was life. I am not saying there is no other life forms in the universe, but this seems to be much ado about raising money. NASA is desperate for funding and any news that suggests progress and the need for more exploration is a great way to drum up some funding.


    And thanks for the grammar lesson, but if you intend to correct my grammar, please use proper grammar yourself. For weeks now as a member of this board, you have insisted on writing without capitalizing at the beginning of sentences, yet you feel the need to correct me on the misuse of a word?

    Look, I have enjoyed much of what you've had to say, I have agreed with some, I have disagreed as well, we have ribbed you in fun about your Northern roots, but along the way I have not felt the need to correct your grammar and I will politely ask you to refrain from feeling the need to correct mine. It is not your place. When you do this, especially in a thread such as this, you are placing more value your intelligence than anyone else's, a tactic you seem to use a lot when trying to make your point.

    I am not trying to get into a confrontation with you Ryman, I simply ask you to consider your own mistakes before you correct others.

    Im not correcting your grammar, as you have stated my own PUNCTUATION and often capitalisation is often not great this results from me typing too fast and being too lazy to go back afterwards, HOWEVER, my grammar and usage are rarely poor. I corrected a misuse or malapropism so that you would not look dense in front of other people if you continue to use the wrong word if I had meant it to be insulting, I would have insulted you not corrected you.

    Now as for the point of the post, what it proves is rather simple, our assumptions about life and what is necessary for life to generate has been challenged, now places that we formerly assumed had no shot at life now obviously do. the 6 basic elements are now 7, and if there are 7 there will be more.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boone View Post
    Is no one else surprised that NASA is involved in investigating bacteria in some obscure California lake? I understand a discovery like this might have implications for the likelihood of life on other planets, but I don't understand why NASA would be the organization involved in this discovery???

    Somebody educate me.
    Nasa would be the only ones able to figure this out, if a life form is completely alien to what typical science says is required for life, then they would need a Xenobiologist to figure out how it worked. it doesnt sound like much but its actually a pretty big deal. this pretty much challenges everything we thought we knew about what would be needed for life.
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boone View Post
    Is no one else surprised that NASA is involved in investigating bacteria in some obscure California lake? I understand a discovery like this might have implications for the likelihood of life on other planets, but I don't understand why NASA would be the organization involved in this discovery???

    Somebody educate me.
    If you are engaged in trying to find life elsewhere than on this planet it would be helpful to know what conditions both environmental and chemical under which life can exist so you want to minimize the probability of overlooking something. This new bacteria-whose major interesting feature from what I've read so far is it's ability to substitute phosphorus for arsenic in the support structure of the DNA mulecule-not in the actual molecule itrself-is an example as is research into extremeophiles of science's efforts to do precisely that. The more we are able to expand the parameters of the search the more likely we are to recognize a living organism when it's encountered. Until the discovery of this particular organism it's likely no one would have thought to consider the possibility that arsenic-which is, of course, deadly to just about anything living on Earth, could be utilized in this manner. It makes perfect sense for NASA to be involved in these kinds of efforts to me.

    The above article does have an uncomfortably melodramatic tone but I have serious problems with the way science is presented to the public by the media-true, it is an important discovery but first, there are questions being asked by biochemists about some features of how arsenates which have some different chemical properties than phosphates can be used in the structural manner apparently being used here so the next step is more research, obviously to learn more about the underlying mechanisms involved. It does, however, indicate that in the search for extra-terestrial forms of life it would be better, probably, to be broad in the scope of the search rather than narrow-it would better to find something and then have to conclude "Nah, it wasn't" than to accidently overlook one that was a living organism.

    NASA has been under criticism in recent years for mismanagement and there seems to be a trend in the direction of more "austere" government expenditures so the somewhat "sensationalist" tone may have been a PR move-the discovery, however, still stands-it an exciting one that biologists are going to be investigating with relish for some time. I love it when things like this happen.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by servumtuum
    ...It does, however, indicate that in the search for extra-terestrial forms of life it would be better, probably, to be broad in the scope of the search rather than narrow-it would better to find something and then have to conclude "Nah, it wasn't" than to accidently overlook one that was a living organism.
    I've often wondered about this over the years. That is, why was the assumption always made that an alien life form would require water? However not being a hotshot scientist myself, I always figured there must have been some good, scientific reason why we limited our thinking in that way...perhaps that would expand the scope of possibilities too wide. Even so, my overarching point still stands. I felt then, as now that we were perhaps expecting life elsewhere to look a bit more like life here than was probably warranted.
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    “To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.” --Thomas Paine

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rymanofthenorth View Post
    Im not correcting your grammar, as you have stated my own PUNCTUATION and often capitalisation is often not great this results from me typing too fast and being too lazy to go back afterwards, HOWEVER, my grammar and usage are rarely poor. I corrected a misuse or malapropism so that you would not look dense in front of other people if you continue to use the wrong word if I had meant it to be insulting, I would have insulted you not corrected you.

    Now as for the point of the post, what it proves is rather simple, our assumptions about life and what is necessary for life to generate has been challenged, now places that we formerly assumed had no shot at life now obviously do. the 6 basic elements are now 7, and if there are 7 there will be more.
    Look, I am no English major, but I am not the one going around correcting others. For the record, I said nothing of your PUNCTUATION, I surmised you might want to look at your own grammar before pointing out the flaws in other's writing.

    But since you have claimed you rarely use poor grammar, I will have to call BS. You claim lazy, but that does not excuse the grammar from being poor. Incorrect because of lazy is poor. You finally took the time to capitalize the first letter in your sentences when I challenged you. And as for your latest post, you have left me wondering what the hell you are trying to say since you have used poor grammar, again.

    At what point in the highlighted and italicized portion of your retort above are you using proper grammar or proper structure in your sentence? The sentence begins with "I corrected" and runs on without any proper structure to distinguish between the different thoughts. At what point did you want to conclude your thought about helping me not look dense? Was it the statement, "in front of other people"? Was it the phrase, "if you continue to use the wrong word"? Or was it the phrase, "if I had meant it to be insulting"? Because there was no proper punctuation to distinguish the thoughts.

    Even the first sentence, while technically not incorrect, it is still a run-on sentence.

    Again, I am no English Major or English Professor, but that looks like poor grammar to me!

    You're a smart guy Ryman. No one is questioning that. It is your incredible arrogance that people are having trouble with, but you did warn us. Didn't you?
    Last edited by Elephant; 12-03-10 at 02:27 AM.
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  11. #11
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    Like I said I generally type too fast without worrying about capitalisation or punctuation, however my pet peeve is malapropisms, and also like I said , had I wanted to be insulting towards you for using one I would have. I did not because we are both redskins fans and prior to this you have never gone out of your way to irk me.

    Im not overly concerned with the lack of punctuation in some sentences in a message board forum, im not going to start editing posts now. h You may not be aware but english is not my first language.

    for the record, its not arrogance , its confidence born of demonstrated ability. and yes I did warn you lol.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yusuf06 View Post
    I've often wondered about this over the years. That is, why was the assumption always made that an alien life form would require water? However not being a hotshot scientist myself, I always figured there must have been some good, scientific reason why we limited our thinking in that way...perhaps that would expand the scope of possibilities too wide. Even so, my overarching point still stands. I felt then, as now that we were perhaps expecting life elsewhere to look a bit more like life here than was probably warranted.

    A buddy of mine at the U of A was going into xenobiology circa 2003 and he used to go on about what a huge discovery Ice on mars was, apparently because all life on earth requires moisture even if its on a molecular level, we assume the same of aliens. I also asked once why we assume carbon based life is the most likely and was told " because we have experience with it so its easier to theorise."

    There is a video game where you design an alien, my niece plays it, it looks pretty interesting.

    Serv, I find that these newsflashes generally pander to the common people, most people sadly do not understand much beyond their own scope so they need to be spoon fed. case in point, a television program called the event had a scientist tell someone that the visitors shared 97 percent of our DNA, I immediately said "so they are aliens then" and my roomate said "wtf theyre 97% the same." so I told him that chimps and humans share about 95% and it blew his mind. the issue is that most people have very general knowledge and very little outside their niche.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rymanofthenorth View Post
    Like I said I generally type too fast without worrying about capitalisation or punctuation, however my pet peeve is malapropisms, and also like I said , had I wanted to be insulting towards you for using one I would have. I did not because we are both redskins fans and prior to this you have never gone out of your way to irk me.

    Im not overly concerned with the lack of punctuation in some sentences in a message board forum, im not going to start editing posts now. h You may not be aware but english is not my first language.

    for the record, its not arrogance , its confidence born of demonstrated ability. and yes I did warn you lol.
    LOL! My friend, the need for you to correct me because I used a malapropism is pure arrogance. It has nothing to do with confidence born from anything. But, it looks like your laughing at this so I will in turn agree that the whole thing is rather humorous.

    So, to satisfy my own pet peeve, you are participating on an American message board so no more, defence. OK?

    Now, I would like to thank Serv for taking the time to describe in detail the significance of this discovery.

    My point, as you have touched upon, was that I believe the significance of the discovery is minimized because of the sensationalism involved with the story. There were reports that there were intentional leaks that suggested there was an actual discovery of life on another planet. When I first saw the news cycle this morning, there were teasers that suggested life outside of our planet was discovered.

    I do not know who leaked this info or if it was true, but the whole thing has been a little sketchy from the start for me.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boone View Post
    Is no one else surprised that NASA is involved in investigating bacteria in some obscure California lake? I understand a discovery like this might have implications for the likelihood of life on other planets, but I don't understand why NASA would be the organization involved in this discovery???

    Somebody educate me.
    I guess they have to have something to do since the current adminstration doesn't seem interested in space at all.

    While this has some neat implications, I was kinda hoping they had found something bacterial on Mars
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    My NASA comments were focused more on on how organizationally NASA would be involved in this kind of science, not whether they should be or how it is relevant to their overall mission of space exploration. I just had no idea they were out there doing research of this kind. As I said, maybe my mental image of the scope of NASA is just way out of whack - found it surprising though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarge View Post
    I guess they have to have something to do since the current adminstration doesn't seem interested in space at all.

    While this has some neat implications, I was kinda hoping they had found something bacterial on Mars
    Hehehe.

    Only you, Sarge, could politicize an arsenic-based lifeform!
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    Seems like a good place for a Uranus joke.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boone View Post
    Hehehe.

    Only you, Sarge, could politicize an arsenic-based lifeform!
    Everyone has their place and purpose in life
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boone View Post
    My NASA comments were focused more on on how organizationally NASA would be involved in this kind of science, not whether they should be or how it is relevant to their overall mission of space exploration. I just had no idea they were out there doing research of this kind. As I said, maybe my mental image of the scope of NASA is just way out of whack - found it surprising though.

    Nasa does a lot of stuff, they also research compounds and stuff that would make no sense. I once got to witness a demonstration of a tow rope that was smaller than a pencil but they used it to pull a tank! some pretty cool stuff from back when Canada actually contributed to the space race.
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