Thursday, December 02, 2010

E.T. Phone Home.

NASA today will announce that it has found arsenic microbes in space, according to a friend of mine who is usually well-informed on these matters. The announcement is scheduled for 2pm Eastern Time today.

Pushing life to extremes, researchers reported Thursday that they have discovered microbes able to subsist almost entirely on arsenic, which "very likely" incorporate it into their DNA. The finding may be the first exception to the formula long thought to govern the basic chemistry of life.

Force-grown in the laboratory, these bacteria use the notorious poison to replace molecules of the element phosphorus in critical parts of their working biology, including in the spiral backbone of DNA, which is a crucial component for all known life, the researchers said. By depending on an element so toxic to normal life, the microbes are a living demonstration of the exotic substances that alien biochemistry might, in theory at least, use on other worlds.

-- From

The previous version was almost completely wrong. Except the headline. The headline was great, don't you think? So original...