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California Lake's Arsenic Hints At a Shadow Biosphere

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the some-more-tea-dear? dept.

NASA 155

MichaelSmith writes "Scientists think that there might be arsenic-based life in Mono Lake, California. If it's shown to exist, such life could have evolved independently from our own, or it could have forked from ours at a very early stage."

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Arsenic life forms? (1)

nebaz (453974) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378576)

Arsenic life forms = Super rats (resistant to rat poison). Oh boy!

Re:Arsenic life forms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31378618)

Yes, but you can kill them just by spraying with a water.

Re:Arsenic life forms? (2, Funny)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378704)

I think you accidentally a word ?

Re:Arsenic life forms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31378850)

The whole thing.

Re:Arsenic life forms? (1)

nebaz (453974) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379128)

No I not!

Re:Arsenic life forms? (2, Informative)

TheJokeExplainer (1760894) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379192)

To those who didn't get it, parent is referring to the "I accidentally X", a 4chan meme. The verb is intentionally left out.

It's based on the following post:

hey /g/ I need your help
I accidentally 93MB of .rar files
what should I do...is this dangerous ?

Read more about it here: http://www.encyclopediadramatica.com/I_accidentally_X [encycloped...matica.com]

Re:Arsenic life forms? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31379590)

You're a nigger irl imo tbqh

Re:Arsenic life forms? (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379970)

[picard_facepalm.jpg] Stop posting!

Lol, arsenic genesis (5, Funny)

Hojima (1228978) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379234)

God: let there be man!
Secretary: god, R&D's on the other line, they're saying they made a new breakthrough.
God: what kind of breakthrough?
Secretary: apparently, phosphorus is better than arsenic and it's less polluting. They're saying that the efficiency of ATP alone is worth the transition.
God: medamnit, why didn't they get this to me sooner, I just finished breathing life into this guy. Now what am I supposed to do with poor Adamus?
Secretary: well, our lawyers did some digging and found that the name infringes on some obscure company that caught wind of the project and are already demanding royalties. That, and the EPA is starting to regulate arsenic more vigorously.
God: *sigh* time to make some cutbacks *pumps shotgun*

Re:Lol, arsenic genesis (1)

jesset77 (759149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379880)

Nuuuuuuuuuuu!

It's a trap, Felisa Wolfe-Simon just wants to sell you Head and Shoulders [imdb.com] !

Re:Arsenic life forms? (4, Funny)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378844)

Super rodents? I don't believe in them.

Re:Arsenic life forms? (1)

Kryptonian Jor-El (970056) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378918)

I, for one, welcome our new arsenic-laden overlords

Re:Arsenic life forms? (0, Flamebait)

tqk (413719) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379116)

I, for one, welcome our new ...

Damn, if that (so to speak) joke wasn't old last century, it sure is now. Please shoot yourself. Thanks.

Ya know, gun controls limit fools from their most effective path to a Darwin Award. Why'd anyone want to do that?!?

NRA, I'll licence the idea to you for a cut.

Sometimes on a /. post, you never know where you'll end up. I'll go replay Gladiator now, bye.

Re:Arsenic life forms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31379556)

licence? you a limey?

Re:Arsenic life forms? (1)

skine (1524819) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379122)

I've heard there's one Super Rat who is a master of ninjutsu.

Re:Arsenic life forms? (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379202)

Don't worry! If you're attacked by one, I'll fend it off by poking it gently in the nose with a stick while you struggle for your life!

Re:Arsenic life forms? (2, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379230)

The good news is said super rats have no appetite for our carbon-based non-arsenic containing foods.

The bad news is the super rats' excrement will fill the soil with the poison, eventually getting into the water and plants, and killing us all

Re:Arsenic life forms? (2, Funny)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379728)

ALF

Shameless sensationalism? (-1, Offtopic)

logjon (1411219) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378620)

Couldn't be. Not on my /.

Re:Shameless sensationalism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31379068)

Your slashdot.

Says the guy with a uid above 1.4m.

Re:Shameless sensationalism? (0, Redundant)

logjon (1411219) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379370)

I meant to check the anonymous box so I could pretend to be a surly neckbearded oldfag. Also, how did I get modded redundant?

Re:How did I get modded ? (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 4 years ago | (#31380030)

You must be new here.

Hmm.. (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378628)

Any organism with an Adenosine triarsenate based energy transport structure would be a serious badass.

Arsenic and Phosphorus are quite similar, chemically; but I'm not nearly chemist enough to know if there are messy details preventing a suitably evolved biological system from substituting one for the other.

Though, this being the internet, I'm obliged to note that Chuck Norris already does.

Re:Hmm.. (5, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378862)

but I'm not nearly chemist enough to know if there are messy details preventing a suitably evolved biological system from substituting one for the other.

Well for one, a great deal of biochemistry involves ATP in normal life forms that has little to do with energy transport. Proteins can be activated through phosphorylation by ATP. DNA is constructed using ATP and its base analogues. Glucose must be phosphorylated twice before it is done being biochemically broken down to reducing equivalents and CO2. These processes especially phosphorylation of proteins and DNA structure, all work because PO4 is the right size. A system based on AsO4 would have proteins and genetic structure much different than our own structurally speaking. Also, the triarsenate analogues could very well be markedly unstable.

The important questions... (4, Funny)

acehole (174372) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378636)

Can we eat them and are they tasty?

Re:The important questions... (3, Interesting)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378672)

Eating arsenic-based life forms? I'll leave that for you. I know you're just joking, but If by some inconceivable chance they do exist, one pretty good guess at why they're still here is that arsenic is extremely toxic, which as far as biological defenses go is a pretty good one.

Re:The important questions... (4, Interesting)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378686)

Makes me wonder if we would be as toxic to them as they would be to us...

Re:The important questions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31378732)

IN Great Motherland of Arsenical Union, arsenic doesnt poison you, you poison arsenic. tip of the hat to yakoff smirnoff, and why cant i type this in all caps, i meant it as a shout...

Re:The important questions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31378778)

Etched into the sides of one of the many tufa protuberances rising from the lake were three enigmatic words:

"NO EAT I"

Not sure if it is meant as a warning that I shouldn't eat it, or that it is trying to reassure me that whatever wrote that isn't going to eat me...

Re:The important questions... (5, Interesting)

SEE (7681) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379822)

Probably. Arsenic is toxic to us because of its chemical similarity to phosphorous. It reacts enough like phosphorous to get pulled into various reactions in our cells, and then enough differently to make the processes fail. In an organism that used arsenic instead of phosphorous, phosphorous would cause the same trouble.

Computer analogy -- In the old Eastern Bloc, clones of Western chips were reportedly made using "metric inches" of 25 millimeters instead of American inches of 25.4 mm. This worked fine electrically and mechanically when all the gear you were using was made to the same spec, but if you unknowingly tried to put a Western-made chip on 1/10th inch spacing into an Eastern Bloc socket on 2.5 mm spacing, or vice-versa, the incompatibility could cause failures. Similarly, it might be possible to build a cellular chemistry using arsenic instead of phosphorous. But if you put arsenic into a creature built with phosphorous or vice-versa, you're likely going to have failures as the cell unknowingly plugs the wrong element in.

Re:The important questions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31380020)

I'm sorry, I don't know these computers you speak of. Can you put that in a car analogy?

Re:The important questions... (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379092)

Maybe they're from Butter Dimension like Topato!. "I AM MADE OF POISON!"

Best link I can find with the text. http://www.wigu.com/overcompensating/2005/09/i-am-made-of-poison-and-xml.html [wigu.com] My favorite web comic ever. http://wigu.com/ [wigu.com] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wigu [wikipedia.org]

Karma be damned! If any story is worth a Topato plug, it's this one.

Re:The important questions... (1)

skine (1524819) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379132)

They taste just like almond-flavored chicken.

Re:The important questions... (5, Informative)

TheJokeExplainer (1760894) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379268)

Confused parent made a mistake and is actually referring to Cyanide which is said to smell and taste like bitter almonds, not Arsenic.

Re:The important questions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31379758)

Someone actually lived to say what it tastes like? Or is it just an educated guess?

Re:The important questions... (2, Informative)

M8e (1008767) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379830)

Yes. no.

You only need a very small amount to be able to taste it (and bitter is a taste, almond is an smell).

Re:The important questions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31379460)

That's Cyanide, not arsenic.

Re:The important questions... (1)

gooman (709147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379174)

Poplers? Mmmm.

Made Robert Henke lose his hair (2, Informative)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378656)

This Monolake? [monolake.de]

On an arsenic-based life form world (4, Insightful)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378660)

The highly intelligent life would find it bizarre that some organisms would actually thrive in an atmosphere with such a dangerous and corrosive gas like oxygen.

Re:On an arsenic-based life form world (2, Funny)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378720)

Or even worse, Carbon Dioxide, the Antichrist of the 21st century.

Re:On an arsenic-based life form world (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31379040)

fail

read acc again and see the reference

Re:On an arsenic-based life form world (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379014)

it's the fact that O2 is so reactive is what makes it useful in the first place.

Meanwhile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31378662)

Scientists suspect the new life forms communicate via something called "S L A S H D O T"

Re:Meanwhile (4, Insightful)

skine (1524819) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379144)

Is that with no life still a lifeform?

Paper by Wolfe-Simon et al. (5, Informative)

Group XVII (1714286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378666)

Re:Paper by Wolfe-Simon et al. (5, Informative)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379714)

Well, the answer is still: No.

I just read TFA. (Yeah, I know, shame on me. ;)

And actually, she is just taking buckets of the water, diluting them so they contain more arsenic and less phosphorus, and adding sugar etc, to see if she finds organisms who then thrive.
But the point is: She still found nothing at all. She’s just taking water and playing with it.

Now of course I’m not saying that the theory isn’t true. Since we simply don’t know it yet.
So her work is good and I’m happy she does it.

Just... saying that there is arsenic life there... is just disingenuous. If you know what I mean.
But I bet she did not intent to be disingenuous. Instead I bet, that the media hype machine is to blame.

Amazing (5, Interesting)

blaster151 (874280) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378702)

I had just read about this possibility today in this book [amazon.com] , a fascinating compendium of mini-essays by leading thinkers about scientific or social developments that may be around the corner. Existing tests for biological organisms are geared towards a working asssumption that life forms will be part of the basic, familiar biological tree that we are based on. A "shadow biosphere" was discussed as something that could potentially be an alternative hierarchy of life, so unfamiliar that we haven't understood how to look for it even though it could be relatively populous in certain niche areas of the earth.

Finding an alternative pathway to the evolution of complex life forms could affect our perception of how common life is in the universe and could be a stunning treasure trove of discovery and insight for biologists.

This is sheer speculation so far! (5, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378708)

Why should this merit our attention? All she does is speculate about it. I just read the paper she wrote about it in January of last year, and that was almost pure speculation too.

Tell you what: call us back when there is something to actually show us in this area. So far there is next to nothing but somebody's wild idea.

In the meantime, I have a theory of my own: all dinosaurs were thin at one end, much much thicker in the middle, then thin again at the other end.

Can I get a research grant please?

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378812)

Why should this merit our attention?

For the same reason archea do: a fundamentally new form of life is of interest to us scientifically. Right now it's mostly speculation but that is why experiments are being done; to test hypotheses and support or discredit speculation on the subject. It is certainly worth looking into at the least.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378860)

You have completely missed my point (as did, no doubt, those who modded it "troll"):

There is as yet -- even according to the recent paper she wrote -- virtually no evidence that a lifeform such as this exists. Sure, I am interested in new scientific findings. But this isn't a finding! It isn't news. It's just speculation. I submit that until there is some kind of evidence, her theory is worth just as much as the one I mentioned above. I.e., nothing.

This article is not worthy of Slashdot. If I want to read speculations about unusual life forms, I can just go pick up a science fiction book at the local store, which in many cases will contain at least as much science as presented here.

And I guess, in a nutshell, that is my point: We are shown no science here. And until there is some, this article was worth no more to me than the science fiction book I mentioned before. Less, in fact. Novels at least tend to be entertaining.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (5, Insightful)

Group XVII (1714286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378996)

It's well informed speculation. It seems like a methodical approach to developing a research agenda, and indeed we are told actual experiments are being conducted. I don't have any reason to doubt that. Probably more that a few people will find the topic fascinating. I'm sympathetic to your objection but it might be overstated.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (3, Informative)

deander2 (26173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379164)

developing a methodology to search for something is usually considered publishable research in and of itself. (if said methodology is genuinely unique) the results (be they positive or negative) are often presented in a follow-up paper.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (1)

kevinadi (191992) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379472)

That is very true, as a new methodology if tested workable, can pave the way for future research in itself.

Another reason to split the methodology/result in two papers is that usually (in my area) a paper is very limited in page count, so you usually have no space to present a method, prove that it's workable, present result, and analyze the result. You can either do two papers with decent explanations, or one paper that is unreadable and makes no sense because everything is horribly compressed. People usually opt for the first choice :)

Or, you can opt for a journal which usually has a pretty liberal page count, but the burden of proving everything in one go is a daunting task that's best left in two publications.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31379180)

"Her experiments are not yet over but she is quietly pleased with the progress she is making. 'We have some very exciting data,' she says. The results should be published by the end of this year."

It's not science fiction speculation, it's real life speculation being experimentally tested which does merit attention and should count as 'science here'.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31379668)

Which translates to 'please fund my study'.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (5, Funny)

Lije Baley (88936) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379224)

Not worthy of Slashdot? ROFL. You must be have been asleep for the last 10 years.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379272)

You a) never worked in a scientific field and b) have no clue where scientific breakthroughs come from. Here's a clue: every single scientific breakthrough started in the same way: this is strange... I wonder if.... The big "proofs", the big shiny toys, the Nobel prizes are all the culmination of a long process that started with someone, somewhere going down a road that is based on sheer speculation. Many fail, a few succeed, but it all starts the same.

Yes, this is early. Yes, this is largely speculation. However, she does have a protocol, experiments that can produce data that can support her theory and a place where to start.

I'm glad science isn't done by bores like you, because we'd never get anything new.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (1, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379916)

I said nothing against her science. I mentioned myself that she seemed to have a protocol. So what's your point? I would like to see the results (positive or negative) of her research, too. But like a number of others here, you have missed the point. Here idea is anything but new. It is ancient. What I want to read about is something new.

Okay, so she has a protocol. Let's call that something new (it may be). So then why isn't the article about the protocol -- the new thing -- rather than about the old tired idea of life based on different chemistry?

My point was that so far, there is nothing new to see here, folks. Move along now.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (0, Flamebait)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379926)

And by that I mean, I am the one who is bored. I knew of the possibility of life based on different chemistry when I was 10 years old. I am quite a bit older than that now. So show me something new already. Until you do, YOU are being boring.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31379966)

I totally 100% agree with you.

Jealous much, bitch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31379300)

MEOOOWW, HISS!!!!

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (0)

tsa (15680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379434)

I guess in the early 20th century a lot of people said the same about this weird thing called quantum physics that some people suddenly came up with.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (1)

ozbird (127571) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379986)

For the same reason archea do: a fundamentally new form of life is of interest to us scientifically.

Archaea, by definition, are a fundamentally old form of life that has done very nicely for a few billion years.

Humans are ignorant; film at 11.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31378826)

Anne Elk [youtube.com] beat you to it.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378912)

Anne Elk beat you to it.

Yes, of course. :0) I was wondering if anyone would notice.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378848)

Well okay but from the article:

But she hopes that her research may help scientists to reconsider what alien or “weird” life might look like: “It may prove that there are other possibilities that are beyond our imagination. It opens the door for us to think about biology in ways we have never thought. We are going to look for life on other planets and we only know to look for that which we know. This may help us to develop tools to look for something we have never seen.”

I think this is a good point because we are starting to get spectra from planets around other stars. If we find a planet with composition and other parameters similar to our own we may assume that life as we know it exists there. But life on these planets may not be as we know it, and we need to understand how it might work.

So yeah this is speculation, but I think it is worthwhile doing now.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (2, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378886)

Perhaps it is a good point, but the very same point was made in books of fiction no less than 100 years ago. So I ask again: what merits its mention now?

Despite the mods, my comment was not intended as trolling. There is nothing new here. This is an old idea she is re-hashing. Sure, it's (very) mildly interesting that she thinks she has an experimental way to verify the presence of something. But until there is some actual data, I'm simply not interested in rehashing such ancient ideas.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (1, Insightful)

tpstigers (1075021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378968)

Jane - Here's your problem - you mistook Slashdot for a place where you can engage in intelligent conversation. This is not the case. I was similarly modded into trolldom a short while ago for having the audacity to point to the fact that there is no direct evidence of evolution (I do, however, believe in evolution, just the same). Because Slashdot is the stomping grounds of adolescents (of any age), comments that APPEAR to be trollish are immediately assumed to be so. No one actually thinks about the actual words written before they mod them. My point here is that you have chosen the wrong venue for this discussion. Nobody here wants to hear you making sense. They just want you to say something funny (and by funny, I mean something that refers to at least one body part and/or geek pop culture reference). If you actually want to have an intelligent conversation, though, you came to the wrong place.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (0, Offtopic)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379252)

I was similarly modded into trolldom a short while ago for having the audacity to point to the fact that there is no direct evidence of evolution (I do, however, believe in evolution, just the same).

You're now causing Jane to question herself. I think people that find you agreeing with them probably do that a lot.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379274)

I was similarly modded into trolldom a short while ago for having the audacity to point to the fact that there is no direct evidence of evolution (I do, however, believe in evolution, just the same).

It couldn't possibly have been that you were merely ignorant, right? I mean, any questioning of your superior intellect and knowledge has to come from rubes who don't have a clue.

Wow, I wish I could be such a narcissist.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (0, Offtopic)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379964)

It happens to me fairly regularly... especially when I point out the literal facts as opposed to the popular view. And most especially when I do not stress beforehand that I am about to do so. For some reason, some people seem to take that personally.

But you know what? It's kind of fun to kick up a little bit of debae and try to get people to think a bit for themselves now and then, even at the risk of a few Karma points.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (1)

kevinadi (191992) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379446)

What's new in this is the possibility of a life form to live in a highly poisonous condition, and breathe poison like us breathe air. This is very exciting indeed if she got some preliminary data (which she said she does) and publish it. Science fiction authors, on the other hand, do not bother to perform experiments and write papers. They just speculate. She is doing something with that speculation, with methods that are responsible and repeatable.

We have science and progress because of speculations like this. You can't expect every research to succeed, because if you worked in a research area, you know that is not the case. 90% of research simply fails, but the 10% that do succeed add many things to our knowledge (but then again, I just pulled that number out from my own experience, so YMMV).

Every time you read a scientific experiment that may seem useless, remember that in the 19th century, people thought that "all things worth inventing are invented already". Please do not fall into that mindset, because if that mindset takes hold, we'll be in the 19th century forever.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379936)

No, that's not new at all. Obviously you are not a fan of science fiction. The idea (and I mean the idea that it could be reality) of life based on different chemistry has been hashed around for many decades. Arsenic instead of phosphorus, silicon instead of carbon, liquid methane instead of water, you name it. It's been done. As an idea, that is.

That is my whole point here, which so many have seemed to have missed. This is NOT new. I come to Slashdot to learn about NEW things. I eagerly await the results of this research, but until there is any, this is just a very old story.

I read a paper she authored about a year ago on this subject, and most of the paper was speculation, too. I kind of wondered about the point of the paper, because the experimental data only obliquely even affected the point she was trying to make. The paper itself was as speculative as TFA.

Show me the results of the science. Until then, there is nothing new here and I rather object to it being presented as though it were.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31378852)

Exactly,

Quote Bill Clinton, on the speculation about life on mars (1997):
  “It speaks of the *possibility* of life. *If* this discovery is confirmed, it *will* surely be one of the most stunning insights into our Universe that science has ever uncovered. Its implications are as far-reaching and awe-inspiring as can be imagined.”

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379236)

The rock in question and others like it are indeed producing some really curious and stunning science. "Proof"? No, not yet.

Re:This is sheer speculation so far! (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379214)

I have a theory of my own: all dinosaurs were thin at one end, much much thicker in the middle, then thin again at the other end.

Middle age will do that to ya
     

Yeah but she's calling the ball (5, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379484)

She's being a scientist of the most famous type - she's calling the play before hand. She's putting her reputation on the line, making a prediction, describing a means to test it, and then going to check it herself. She's arguing in the oldest of sense that her insight is right, and in doing so if she gets the job done and is actually right, she's going to be pretty darned famous.

This is far removed from a scientist making a droll statement based on a computer model. She's saying, there is another radically different kind of life on earth and that she is going to show us how to find it. It's worlds beyond cool. She's trying to be like Babe Ruth calling the home run before he does it, and the world just loves that sort of a thing. In a world where people live around the edges and fritter away at them, she's trying to kick open an entirely door. She gets it, and in a very intuitive and natural way, what a scientist is supposed to be - a leader, because their education gives them intuition born out by test, that shows us how to see new things. Life in a dead lake, alien to our own, how much more of a prediction do you need?

Re:Yeah but she's calling the ball (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379944)

You have made the only point so far that (IMO) is worth any points. Okay, she had the ovaries to make a judgment call, and she is staking reputation on it. Good point. And if I were a betting person, I would give her just about 50-50 odds. Personally, I hope she does finding something. But until she does, I am going to snore through articles like this one.

I hate when that happens (5, Funny)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378738)

Don't you hate when someone forks a project and then forgets about it, leaving an odd little version buried in an obscure corner?

Re:I hate when that happens (2, Funny)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378868)

Well, as geobiologists it only seemed natural to host their projects on geocities.

Are we talking BSD ? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31378906)

Goes and hide under a unixified rock now ...

Re:Are we talking BSD ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31379788)

Goes and hide under a unixified rock now ...

unfunny

Sounds like they're making beer from the water... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31378748)

Really sounds like they're home brewing from the lake water. Yummy.

Forked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31378838)

Did they change the license on carbon-based life forms a couple billion years ago?

Re:Forked? (3, Funny)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378898)

    Damned open source projects. They didn't like the carbon license, so they made their own.

    Next thing they'll be telling us, humans are a fork of monkeys.

Re:Forked? (2, Funny)

LamboAlpha (840950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379168)

No, there was no issue with the carbon license. It was a tax issue, the carbon tax.

A bit of a stretch (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31378902)

There's zero evidence it's pure speculation. Also there's nothing saying a traditional life form can't adapt to arsenic. Unless it has a radically different biology it's likely just adapted to the environment. Other lifeforms here have adapted to use toxic agents. Silicone based life would be alien but simply using arsenic doesn't mean alien. One massive problem is the age of the lake. It would have had to have evolved in relatively recent times. It's kind of the Loch Ness Monster problem, it's just not that old. If it lacks DNA or has some other form than a double helix then they may have something but if it has traditional DNA odds are it's a local boy and just adapted.

Re:A bit of a stretch (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378966)

there's nothing saying a traditional life form can't adapt to arsenic.

Thats true. The article points out that early life may have had the flexibility to adapt to wildly different environments.

Silicone based life

I know: women with breast implants!

It would have had to have evolved in relatively recent times.

Maybe it came out of a volcano [wikipedia.org] ?

Volcanic activity persisted past 5 million years BP east of the current park borders in the Mono Lake and Long Valley areas.

Yeah its speculation, but interesting all the same.

Re:A bit of a stretch (3, Interesting)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379054)

Just FYI, Mono Lake lies in an area that's still quite volcanically active, with many hot springs and fumaroles including a couple that can be seen right from U.S. Route 395, the main highway that runs through the region. In fact, the Long Valley area you mentioned is the caldera of a potential super volcano.

The whole area is also very beautiful in an almost other-worldly way. It looks sort of like one of the better Star Trek (TOS) sets.

I'll wait for the paper (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 4 years ago | (#31378960)

I'll wait to read the paper to see what the findings are, but I'm not casting a doubt that it's a possibility that life could incorporate arsenic or phosphorus. There are bacteria out there that reduce nitrogen and sulfur for energy, Life is pretty resilient when it comes down to it, and will find a way to exist.

WOOT 7p (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31378998)

members aal ov3r [goat.cx]

Word up! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379196)

Arsenic? Mono? Shadow? Fork? Somebody has a sick sense of humor.
 

Re:Word up! (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379500)

<offtopic>
I try to avoid commenting on sigs, but shouldn't that be "gigue-ling"?
</offtopic>

Surprised (2, Insightful)

Neuticle (255200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379270)

There is Arsenic in a lake, in California, that might support a unique form of life.

To me, the most surprising thing is that California has not already declared it a disaster zone and spent $45 million trying to "clean" it up.

Re:Surprised (4, Funny)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379624)

No, here in California, we are smart enough to recognize that the Arsenic in the lake is naturally occurring, and is therefor healthy. No doubt one of our enterprising vegans will be bottling it and selling it with a big 'organic' label strung across the front.

Exciting (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379410)

That would be the coolest thing biologists ever discovered. Way cooler than the Sulfur-based life forms in the deep sea.

So much for the building blocks of life... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379678)

And we expect life on other planets to require oxygen, water, and carbon... when we don’t even know what life is here on earth...

According to Wikipedia, there are titan breathers, and even uranium breathers, who thrive in hot sulfuric acid.

So I fear that we will not even look at where we would find the first life. Or dismiss it as impossible to live.

Shadow blogosphere? (1)

carcosa30 (235579) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379846)

Am I the only one who reads "blogosphere" every time he sees biosphere?

Are there arsenic-based bloggers out there talking about politics and trading arsenic-based biscotti recipes?

So much potential, what is going on? (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 4 years ago | (#31379958)

"ARSEnic based life form" has so much potential for /. humour,where is it?
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