National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station

National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station


The new stuff of life: arsenic

NASA, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, announced a momentous find on December 2, 02010, that of microorganisms that live off arsenic. According to the media release on their Web site
Researchers conducting tests in the harsh environment of Mono Lake in California have discovered the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic. The microorganism substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in its cell components.

"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."

This finding of an alternative biochemistry makeup will alter biology textbooks and expand the scope of the search for life beyond Earth. The research is published in this week's edition of Science Express.
 Additional details about the find are available on NASA's Astrobiology site. Science Express is an online service of the Science journal.

1 comment:

  1. Hi David,
    Arsenic is one of my favorite chemicals. Seems it is in a trillionth part in lots of our foods. Keeps me mindful of Paracelsus "the dose makes the poison", everytime I see a health scare about plastics water bottles.