Originally Posted by jim777
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