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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-02-2010, 01:10 PM Thread Starter
 
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Big new, planet Earth!

http://gizmodo.com/5704158/

I'll be watching the press conference live!

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-02-2010, 01:15 PM
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Re: Big new, planet Earth!

sounds cool to me, but the thread title is a bit misleading
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-02-2010, 03:04 PM
 
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Re: Big new, planet Earth!

Yeah, a little misleading. It sound to me like new alien life forms or a unknown species on Earth. Still very interesting though.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-02-2010, 05:11 PM
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Re: Big new, planet Earth!

Yeah a lot of the biology professors here at the college I teach at have been discussing this. Pretty cool stuff.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-02-2010, 11:55 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Big new, planet Earth!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jim777 View Post
sounds cool to me, but the thread title is a bit misleading
Oh, you should know me by now, jim

I watched the whole press conference. If anyone missed it the low down was this:

This scientist took mud from a lake known to contain high concentrations of toxins (i.e. arsenic, etc) and sampled some microbes from it. Took said microbes back to the lab and grew them in a control of artificial lake water rich in regular growing stuff (nutrients, sugars, etc) but no phosphorus - instead high levels of arsenic.

What happened? The microbes (beyond all logical reasoning) spontaneously grew their DNA chains with arsenic instead of phosphorus as their "backbone". By all genetic accounts, this shouldn't have happened. Traditionally alternating phosphate and pentose sugar molecules, with the nucleic acids connecting to make the inner part of the helix, so it's remarkable this happened. It really opens up the possibilty that something like Carl Sagan's concept of a non-carbon based lifeform exists, or that simply life exists elsewhere on places that don't have similar characteristics to Earth.

Also it opens up implications towards bioengineering like never before. Of course positive (but like any pragmatist, by the end of the press conference I was wondering what mastermind who was going to try and turn DNA engineering into a weapon )

Lastly, I DIDNT know, that the whole AT/GC thing happens 50% spontaneously (the sugar half is spontaneous, and the chemical half isn't..something like that; I dunno I went to college for physics), and apparently in a regular phosphorus DNA reaction it's like 1 in 3 odds the bond will form, but with the arsenic it happened MUCH faster and much more frequent! Very weird! The spontenaety of the reactions though is your god factor though for those who wish to argue. Chemicals are as chemicals do...but heisenberg is always right...some of the time
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-03-2010, 08:46 AM
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Re: Big new, planet Earth!

Definitely thought provoking. Hopefully, this will launch new directions for curing cancers and the like over time.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-03-2010, 09:04 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Big new, planet Earth!

In the Q & A section someone asked about how it's implications toward solving the energy solution (like biodiesel, and using algae as a green powerplant etc) and they cleverly responded by saying this new microbe could technically be used to clean up arsenic in toxic waste dumps since it wasn't phosphorus based. This really is going to open up all new doors in so many new directions.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-09-2010, 02:08 PM
 
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Re: Big new, planet Earth!

Turns out a lot of scientists are very skeptical about it actually 'eating' arsenic, they say the NASA scientists may have jumped the gun. Seems hard to believe, as arsenic dissolves in water, where this bacteria lives.
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