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Arsenic-Friendly Microbe Now Seems Unlikely

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the but-it-sure-sounded-cool-at-the-time dept.

Earth 122

The Associated Press (as carried by the Washington Post) reports that the controversial report of arsenic-based life-forms in a California lake (much hyped by NASA) look suddenly less controversial, but in a way that will disappoint those who hoped that such an unexpected thing had actually been found on earth. Instead, the journal Science "released two papers that rip apart the original research. They 'clearly show' that the bacteria can't use arsenic as the researchers claimed, said an accompanying statement from the journal." USA Today's version of the story points out that the claim, and subsequent considered rejection of that claim as unsupportable, "looks like a case study in how science corrects its mistakes."

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122 comments

Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40588717)

Arsenic friendly bacteria could be CREATED FROM SCRATCH if we as a society legally justified confiscating Bill Gates' HUGE WEALTH for the greater good of research and social good. We are condemned TO HELL for not doing this.

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40588751)

Arsenic friendly bacteria could be CREATED FROM SCRATCH if we as a society legally justified confiscating Bill Gates' HUGE WEALTH for the greater good of research and social good. We are condemned TO HELL for not doing this.

I can think of better things to with billions of dollars than create strange bacteria. The space elevator comes to mind.

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40588887)

Space Elevators and Arsenic friendly bacteria... These are the examples provided by those who advocate wealth confiscation as superior appropriations of the earth's limited resources than would otherwise be made by the proposed victim of asset forfeiture... Bill Gates, you know? The philanthropist and founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, a charity which has squandered the money in question on such petty causes as CURING MALARIA!

If you were looking you could not find a better example of why social engineered redistribution of wealth is less beneficial to society than leaving it the hands of the people who accumulated it in the first place.

Just in case anyone thought the above morons were on to something, the nationalization of private property would cause an instant market panic which would destabilize the economy and translate in to a DECREASE in government revenues.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laffer_curve

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (0, Troll)

siddesu (698447) | about 2 years ago | (#40588939)

Curing malaria is compounding the "limited resources" problem. Applying your reasoning suggests we should confiscate more, not less.

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589323)

I don't buy in to the "more humans = bad" paradigm. It's well known that the highest birth rates are in impoverished countries that have high infant mortality. Humans are instinctively driven to grow population levels so the unintended consequence to 3rd world living conditions is an increased growth rate relative to 1st world countries. John the middle class only-child has n-resources required in his upbringing, while if 6 children die before John VII the Sub-Saharan African child survives, he has N*7 resources necessary to bring him to adulthood.

If the middle class child consumes some multiple of N beyond the requirement, it is not a fundamental flaw in human existence, but an opportunity created by the market inefficiency of 3rd world child-rearing. John the middle class child will likely contribute significantly more to society in the form of taxes than it cost to raise him making him financially exothermic. Meanwhile, based on the same idea of human capital, John the African child is likely endothermic based on the broken window fallacy type destruction resulting from the spread of disease caused by his & his 6 predecessors infected blood.

Bottom line, if the average human consumed more than they produced, we would all be starving. The majority of humanity may be useless wastes of flesh, but the ones who get off their ass and earn even a modest paycheck contribute a surprising amount to government revenues, even if only by proxy through the taxation of the goods they purchase and the associated incomes that went in to their production.

A trivial investment in education and basic preventative medicine yields a stunningly high ROI from tax revenues on the economic activity created. Malaria medication and mosquito netting are literally worth their weight in gold, even if the dividends are hard to track or quantify.

My point is, when everyone shows up to the government coffers with their pet project's hand out, including my malaria tin cup, you quickly find tax revenues allocated to more pet projects than can be sustained, and quite like a credit addicted american consumer, no one wants to pay for yesterday's shiny pet project financed with easy tomorrow dollars today. Democracy is not a practical way of allocating resources which is a job best left to markets and philanthropy. Not the kind with other people's money.

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (2)

Sulphur (1548251) | about 2 years ago | (#40589083)

Space Elevators and Arsenic friendly bacteria... These are the examples provided by those who advocate wealth confiscation as superior appropriations of the earth's limited resources than would otherwise be made by the proposed victim of asset forfeiture... Bill Gates, you know? The philanthropist and founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, a charity which has squandered the money in question on such petty causes as CURING MALARIA!

If you were looking you could not find a better example of why social engineered redistribution of wealth is less beneficial to society than leaving it the hands of the people who accumulated it in the first place.

Just in case anyone thought the above morons were on to something, the nationalization of private property would cause an instant market panic which would destabilize the economy and translate in to a DECREASE in government revenues.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laffer_curve

He should have called it the Arthur curve.

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589091)

the nationalization of private property would cause an instant market panic

I feel massive need to facepalm here...

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589319)

I never said we should do it. I'm just saying that the space elevator would be an extremely useful device vaulting America into the next era of space technology and discovery. It's actually technologically possible right now. It just requires a large investment of capital. The payoff would be a ridiculously cheaper and safer way to get cargo into outer space. Right now, all we have the shuttle which costs over 10,000 a pound to lift cargo up and blows up approximately 1% of the time.

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (1)

cusco (717999) | about 2 years ago | (#40593023)

Apparently you didn't notice that the Shuttles are now on their way to various museums around the country. Damn, stupid, ignorant AND uninformed. That's quite a combination you've got going there.

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (0)

starworks5 (139327) | about 2 years ago | (#40589775)

I think you need to go back to economics school. If the all property were nationalized, sure the income tax would decrease, but that doesn't mean that GDP has stopped or decreased. In fact I assume that if the government were tax the money people used for consumer spending, and instead invest the money into capital infrastructure, that it would increase our productivity, employment, and after tax income vs CPI.

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40592485)

Spreading rumors about nationalization of an industry is the type of thing people do when shorting a stock. The type of eminent domain compensation we gave to General Motors isn't realistic when the property being seized is money. Asset forfeiture on the scale of taking the entire fortune of one of the world's most prominent philanthropists would shake the foundations of confidence in US property rights and instantly undermine the value of any company based in the United States, as well as the US dollar. If they did it on a Monday, the DJIA would be down 1000 points by Friday. Everyone except retail investors would be pulling the plug out of the bathtub as they made a run on the stock market in an attempt to movie their money in to the Asian Markets/elsewhere.

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40592953)

You argue against the confiscation of wealth by referencing how much good was done with a tiny fraction of that wealth when voluntarily surrendered? Added to how much we're finding out about the Gates Foundation's self-centered investments, I don't think you thought your cunning argument all the way through.

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 2 years ago | (#40589063)

I can think of better things to with billions of dollars than create strange bacteria. The space elevator comes to mind.

Craig Venter already made an artificial bacterium. Pretty sure there has been at least one slashdot story covering it. Making artificial life is kind of a "We are going to land on the moon" type achievement. A lot was learned or will be learned along the way, like how to manipulate large amounts of DNA sequences, and requirements for life. The longer term goal seems to be to make bacteria that will eat oil spills, or make oil or whatever else we want. Organic nanomachines.

I don't know a whole lot about it, there's plenty of information out there about it that I'm not too interested in reading, but I do know it can't be simply written off as useless. In fact, from what I know, it could be more useful than a space elevator. Space elevators have little chance of reversing global warming, for example, but it's conceivable that we could make microbes that would eat up the excess carbon. Lets not get into an argument about which future technology will be useful, obviously.

Anyway, progress on the two are hardly mutually exclusive.

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589275)

That artificial bacteria is a modded bacteria. 100% re-sequenced means modded, starting from existing stuff. Very useful for scientific purposes, irrelevant philosophically, like an arsenic based life form would have been.

A better approach is design an abstraction, a simulation, which ultimately leads to self conscious beings. That is achievable IMHO, for sufficiently complex simulation rules running for sufficient time.

But, even that doesn't necessarily imply an atheistic model of this universe. Sure it would be acclaimed as a big victory against religions (instead, life as a product of transformations of matter in time is still compatible with a creator that obviously belongs outside the space/time he is in charge of).
But in the long run, playing god would instead be useful as a change of perspective.

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (1)

PhilistineGuillotine (2633149) | about 2 years ago | (#40588797)

Baseless claim followed by ludicrous proposal followed by religious nuttery. 2/10 troll.

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40588955)

Judge it by the number of comments. THe other day I did about the same thing except I spent a little more time on it, and I got about 70 comments. Today I slacked off, granted.

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589337)

I never said we should do it. I'm just saying that the space elevator would be an extremely useful device vaulting America into the next era of space technology and discovery. It's actually technologically possible right now. It just requires a large investment of capital. The payoff would be a ridiculously cheaper and safer way to get cargo into outer space. Right now, all we have the shuttle which costs over 10,000 a pound to lift cargo up and blows up approximately 1% of the time..

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (4, Informative)

SlashV (1069110) | about 2 years ago | (#40590081)

Right now, all we have the shuttle

No, you don't

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#40588835)

Just to give you perspective, the entire wealth of Bill Gates would fund the federal government for 5 days. It's kind of depressing how little the richest man in the world could actually accomplish.

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40588985)

I find it reassuring, actually. I don't want to live in a world where any one man has so much wealth that he can fund a country of over three hundred million for a significant length of time. Wealth disparity in this country is bad enough as is.

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589041)

Of course we should keep in mind that his "wealth" is represented largely by stocks in a company that he helped build and presently employs thousands of people. At this point in the chain, it becomes less an issue of Mr Gates owning such a large % of a company, but whether the existence and business practices of that company are having a net benefit to society relative to not having ever existed at all. Secondly, had it been some other company that ended up taking their place in the market, if their CEO would have ended up performing the same degree of philanthropy that Mr. Gates presently does.

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (1)

ledow (319597) | about 2 years ago | (#40589839)

When you have billions (in value or cash), it's easy to be philanthropic.

I'm infinitely more impressed by the guy who was earning 20k and had pledged to give a million away within ten years. And was doing it.

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40590595)

You are such a rube if you think that someone who in 10 years earns $200k can donate $1 million and live. Perhaps if he was living in a monastery and on the charity of others and he was involved in a huge ponzi scheme he could pull that off. And if you are talking about someone who heads up a charitable organization and that's his take-home while he guides other people's money into some cause somewhere, then I can also guarantee you that he is living off of someone else's money somewhere in the chain, either in his living arrangement (either rent controlled or belonging to someone else) or via some other annuity that he gained from someone else (inheritance) or from his own work and investment. Either way he's pulling down more than $20k somewhere. This is also known as simple math.

Wasn't this article about arsenic? You should try some. I hear it's delicious.

Re:Why aren't we redistributing Bill Gate's Money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40594069)

He is not the richest man in the world. That guy lives in Mexico. I doubt that will help your depression.

YEAH BUT DID YOU HEAR MSIE SHARE DOWN TO 15 % !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40588741)

Saw it some place, which said it was true, and that place got it from some other place, which doubles the sources !! Double true !! PRINT !!

Oh well... (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#40588745)

It's nice to see that the matter was cleared up relatively quickly(the media circus wasn't pretty; but it could have been worse).

On the minus side, arsenic-crazed bacteria are a rather cool theory to have dashed against the rocks of callous empiricism. Hopefully some sort of selective breeding experiment can succeed where nature has failed, and give us an organism that substitutes some or all of its phosphorus for arsenic...

Re:Oh well... (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#40589001)

Personally, I'd like to see some experiments attempting to create an arsenic-based politician. Of course, I realize that there would likely be many, many failures on the road to succes, but such is science.

Re:Oh well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589069)

Politicians are based on something far more poisonous than arsenic so its unlikely the experiment would have any effect.

Re:Oh well... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#40591859)

Personally, I'd like to see some experiments attempting to create an arsenic-based politician

God no, politicians are already toxic.

Re:Oh well... (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 2 years ago | (#40589213)

What would selective breeding really tell us about ET? That if we find another Earth maybe we'll find arsenic based life bred by human counterparts?

Re:Oh well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589281)

Selective breeding is so last century. Genetic Engineering or GTFO.

Re:Oh well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40590265)

On the minus side, arsenic-crazed bacteria are a rather cool theory to have dashed against the rocks of callous empiricism. .

These procedural issues were known within a week of the original announcement. This is merely a published rehash of known issues, not an attempt to prove or disprove the hypothesis via experimentation. I keep waiting/hoping for news of further studies, but I haven't seen anything yet.

Re:Oh well... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#40591773)

I wish the media would stay out of science until (and scientists stop reporting to the media), until their evidence goes threw the peer review process.

Why did CFC get rather quick fixing when they found that it was causing holes in the Ozone layer, while Global Warming became a political nightmare? I think it is because the media got a hold of the CFC thing once the bulk of the science was peer reviewed and posted publicly. Global Warming, on the other hand had released its finding before the full peer review, mistakes, and media with non-peer reviewed science, tried to create a picture of an approaching disaster, NY City under 20 feet of water, Drowning Polar Bares... Every Nature Show Having a How Bad we Human are! message in them, even for things like the Extension of Dinosaurs, they seem to save the last 10 minutes to show that we are next!... Captain Planet teaching kids stupid environmentalism, where the big polluters were these villains who seem intent on polluting for the sake of polluting.
We gotten away from science and trying to ward people away from change... But not really telling them what they really need to do. Latest Research shows...
1. YES Global Warming Exists.
2. YES It is caused by Humans.
3. YES It is putting pressure on our ecosystems.
4. YES it is changing weather patterns.
5. YES it is a serious issue.
However it isn't flooding NY City. We humans will probably survive it, and it changes are less extremism then what the media portraits (mostly because they look at the statistical data and take the 3 or 4 standard deviations out and use that as "Scientific Fact")

We could have started working on the problem without as much debate, if the media didn't start villainizing people before all the science was done. We could have worked with Auto Makers and the Oil Industry to find ways to reduce the Carbon output. But the media got their hands on it. Made a big topic out of it. Put Car Makers, and Oil Leaders the big bad guys (Badder Guys?) Put pressure on them, and human instinct is fight or flight, if you are a big CEO you are going to Fight. So they made out all this Right Wing BS, to discredit all the climate change, and make anyone against them seem anti-religious...

Most people know little about science or its process (or more to the point fail to realize that Science is a Process), to try to determine the Truth, it is always changing, and correcting and improving on itself. Most people think Science as the Anti-Magic, Where we use it to conjure up Miracles.
Because of this poor understanding, if people don't like the results they just will not believe in them. And with the media hand feeding them the data, telling them to trust them, they feel like they are not getting the correct facts, and they revolt.

Re:Oh well... (1)

the gnat (153162) | about 2 years ago | (#40592037)

Hopefully some sort of selective breeding experiment can succeed where nature has failed, and give us an organism that substitutes some or all of its phosphorus for arsenic...

You're not going to be able to do any better than millions of years of evolution by random mutation and natural selection. The selective breeding we've done so far is penny-ante stuff compared to the amount of molecular changes needed to support an arsenate-dependent biochemistry. It's not just the DNA and RNA; the underlying components (nucleotide triphosphates) are the basic energy currency of the cell. Thousands of proteins would need to be adapted all at once to use the arsenate forms rather than phosphate. Adaptations that allow organisms to utilize what might otherwise be toxic molecules are not uncommon; a few years ago someone found a cadmium-dependent protein in a marine microorganism, and it wouldn't shock me if someone was able to find a protein that was able to use arsenate productively. But these are single proteins or pathways, not the entire metabolism and genetic infrastructure.

Moving beyond the molecular biology, there were sound chemical reasons why this type of adaptation was unlikely in a lifeform that lives in water, aside from the experimental issues with the original research. I heard somewhere (it may have been a biochemist friend of mine who said this) that the arsenate DNA backbone could be stable in a different solvent (e.g. ammonia), but I don't know enough to tell whether this is in fact true. It is unlikely to be viable for any terrestrial organism, however.

A win for science (0)

thephydes (727739) | about 2 years ago | (#40588795)

and unfortunately a win for the nutters who say that we (the earth) are the only life made by God.

Re:A win for science (0)

able1234au (995975) | about 2 years ago | (#40589011)

Those nutters don't use science so they can't selective pick the data to support their theory. They either live or die by the sword.

Re:A win for science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40591477)

OTOH Arsenic based bacteria will be listed as proof of evolution at work in biology textbooks 20 years from now.

Re:A win for science (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#40592129)

and unfortunately a win for the nutters who say that we (the earth) are the only life made by God.

Odd, I've never met any of them. However unlikely it may be, they actually could be right. What's nutty is assuming without any proof whatever that there is life elsewhere. There probably is, but just saying "it has to be" is stupid.

so much to women empowerment (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40588801)

so much to women empowerment

A sad day for hot scientists (1, Informative)

Pausanias (681077) | about 2 years ago | (#40588811)

It's too bad. The author of the original research was totally hot.

Re:A sad day for hot scientists (4, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#40588845)

There's her picture [wikipedia.org], if anyone cares. You shouldn't.

Most importantly: No she isn't good looking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40592193)

She isn't good looking, she has a square jaw and looks ten years older than her 33 years.

She also has an atrocious personality, the way she handled herself in light of criticism, and to think that she made a Times 100 list.

Fucking atrocious. This is why I hate it when "Science" is used an an anthropomorphism for a group of gallant and intelligent people in white coats working around the clock.

Newsflash: Most people are stupid, this also applies to people who are following scientific methodology to some degree, to find answer to something for someone.

Stop the intellectual vanity, stop the bullshit.

Re:A sad day for hot scientists (1)

geogob (569250) | about 2 years ago | (#40588975)

I'm going to go ahead and propose the hypothesis that your comment illustrates the origin of the whole problem/situation.

Re:A sad day for hot scientists (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589013)

She looks good, but totally hot? You must have a low bar for totally hot. That is reserved for those who are.... well... totally hot.

Re:A sad day for hot scientists (4, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 2 years ago | (#40589079)

I realize this is the internet, and we slashdotters have a reputation to maintain, but seriously... ask yourself if you're proud of that statement. It's a scientist who happens to be female, and your first thought that you share with the world is on her looks?

Re:A sad day for hot scientists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589237)

It's a scientist who happens to be female, and your first thought that you share with the world is on her looks?

Well, my *first* thought would be to comment about her groundbreaking research, but since that's a bust... eh, why not?

Re:A sad day for hot scientists (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589343)

Well with her science being bashed against the rocks, her looks are all she's got left.

Re:A sad day for hot scientists (1, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 2 years ago | (#40589415)

Well, she apparently can't do the Science for crap, so she needs something to fall back on.

Re:A sad day for hot scientists (1, Interesting)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | about 2 years ago | (#40589695)

As I understand it, the controversy really heated up when this researcher started shouting 'SEXISM!' at the first sign of peer criticism. As Sagan said (paraphrased) "If you're gonna make an extraordinary claim, be prepared to back it up with extraordinary proof!" Not assertions that those mean old boys are picking on you because you're a girl.

Re:A sad day for hot scientists (1)

starless (60879) | about 2 years ago | (#40590337)

As I understand it, the controversy really heated up when this researcher started shouting 'SEXISM!' at the first sign of peer criticism. As Sagan said (paraphrased) "If you're gonna make an extraordinary claim, be prepared to back it up with extraordinary proof!" Not assertions that those mean old boys are picking on you because you're a girl.

Is this really true? What is your source for that?
I believe that one of the biggest critics of the original research was Rosie Redfield (who is female).
Redfield is also a co-author of on the Science papers.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=study-fails-to-confirm-existence [scientificamerican.com]
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2010/12/this_paper_should_not_have_been_published.html [slate.com]

Re:A sad day for hot scientists (1)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | about 2 years ago | (#40591309)

Kudos to Redfield then. I admit I didn't follow the story that closely. The few things I read about it indicated that the argument had ended up being divided mostly along gender lines. Thanks for the correction.

Re:A sad day for hot scientists (1)

the gnat (153162) | about 2 years ago | (#40592191)

As I understand it, the controversy really heated up when this researcher started shouting 'SEXISM!' at the first sign of peer criticism.

I am not a fan of this research, but I do not recall ever seeing a claim of sexism being made, at least not by Wolfe-Simon or any of the people involved in the original work. What I do remember is them stating that they wouldn't respond to criticisms until they had been formally peer-reviewed, which most people thought was a bullshit response. Peer review doesn't just mean haggling with the editors at Science for several months and tailoring your manuscript to satisfy some anonymous curmudgeon.

If anything, I would not be surprised if some potential critics of the work were more muted, for fear of being accused of trying to tear down an ambitious female scientist. It's not like this never happens, either - I live in a very liberal area, and yet I've heard stories about some academic science departments at local universities that sound like something out of "Mad Men". In this case, however, the vast majority of the criticism I saw was based on sound scientific arguments and a general distaste for hand-waving. If Wolfe-Simon had been male, I imagine the response would have been somewhat more venomous - which, frankly, wouldn't have been any better for small-s science.

Re:A sad day for hot scientists (1)

geoffball (1195685) | about 2 years ago | (#40591771)

Well, she apparently can't do the Science for crap, so she needs something to fall back on.

According to wikipedia, she plays woodwinds. So she's got that going for her...which is nice.

Wolfe-Simon did her undergraduate studies at Oberlin College and completed a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Chemistry and a Bachelor of Music in Oboe Performance and Ethnomusicology at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

Re:A sad day for hot scientists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589871)

Have to agree that such statements do little to further reasoned discussion of the subject at hand.

But seriously, I would call her arrogant--do you remember the big televised press conference they held to release the first results? I know we have to fight for budgets, but come on. But this is what science is coming to.

21st Century Science... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589103)

"...the claim, and subsequent considered rejection of that claim as unsupportable "looks like a case study in how science corrects its mistakes."..."

You mean that the original proposers banded together, refused to make their research data available to people who wanted to check it and then tried to prevent any opposing discussion in the journals by rejecting all dissenting papers, and pressuring committees to sack any editor who objected to this?

Oh, sorry, I was thinking about climate 'science'....

Re:21st Century Science... (3, Informative)

BergZ (1680594) | about 2 years ago | (#40589949)

I think it is worth while to point out that, of the 5 independent investigations that were launched as a result of the so-called "Climategate", all 5 have exonerated the Climatologists under investigation [discovermagazine.com]. None of the 5 were able to find any evidence of scientific malpractice. I'd call that, coupled with the endorsement of the G8 (+5) national academies of science [nationalacademies.org], a pretty unequivocal vindication of the science of Global Climate Change.

OH a correction.... (4, Insightful)

CheshireDragon (1183095) | about 2 years ago | (#40589111)

That is the one thing great about science. Science admits its wrongs...

Religion simply can not do that because GOD IS NEVER WRONG...grrrrr blarggggg ahhhhhhh

Re:OH a correction.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589239)

As I read this I thought about a number of stories about people falsifying findings. Science doesn't do anything, it is an approach taken by humans who are.... human. It's fun to pretend that the ppl who do that work come from planet Vulcan, buy scientists are human, too, and they have same emotions. Science does have safeguards... maybe checks and balances is a better term to deal with corruptions, and that is something worthy of pr

Re:OH a correction.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589257)

I am sorry, I missed the preview button and hit submit. ... worthy of pride, but all you're doing by anthropomorphizing science the way you did is baiting the group of people you'd like to stay silent into coming in here and agruing with you. Worse, they'd be doing it on terms where they'd be able to gain some ground on you. Do you really want bible thumpers coming in here? Is it really worth the word 'insightful' next to your post.

Nobody's hovering around here to give science a black eye so PLEASE quit encouraging it.

Re:OH a correction.... (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#40593861)

Meh. People anthropomorphize all the time. What he meant is that the scientific method, both formally and in practice, includes skepticism as a fundamental feature. The standard of evidence is set higher than 50%+1 and you try to disprove hypotheses and theories.

Most religions, on the other hand, claim absolute truth.

Re:OH a correction.... (1)

azalin (67640) | about 2 years ago | (#40589557)

Actually they do from time to time. It just takes ages. Galileo for example has recently (1992 to be precise) been officially rehabilitated by the catholic church.

Re:OH a correction.... (1)

chthon (580889) | about 2 years ago | (#40589825)

yes, it sometime takes a long time, but the Catholic Church is the only religious institution doing that kind of retraction.

Re:OH a correction.... (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about 2 years ago | (#40589965)

And then I recall a story just last week about how Germany passed an anti-child abuse law and the Jewish and Islamic faiths are up in arms and joining forces condemning said law because their faith requires them to "correct" a flaw god made in men. And then I recall an even more disturbing story: ritual could pose fatal risk to infants [cnn.com]

Re:OH a correction.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40590101)

So I guess you, as a scientific mind, are able to admit you're wrong and gulity of a grave over simplification.

I can say that as you equate Religion to, i have to assume here, Christianity... certainly you're only considering mono-theistic faiths as you say "GOD" not "GOD(s)".

I would also have to assume your "observation" is based solely on your experience with practicing Christians in your local area.

It may come as a surprise to you that there are many different forms of Christianity, as there are many different forms of Monotheism, as there are many forms of Theism...

given you apparent lack of knowledge in this area, could you seriously make such a wide reanging and spurious comment and truly believe you deserve the mod of Insightful?

Re:OH a correction.... (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 2 years ago | (#40590357)

Except religion isn't God, it is man's interpretation of man's text. Religion in the past had no problems admitting it was wrong. It is just a matter of convincing the masses of followers and figuring out what they were wrong about.

Unlike in Science, the masses typically don't accept a paper as end-all truth(unless we are talking Catholicism). It typically takes several groups to determine something is correct or wrong, and only followers of those groups end up agreeing. At least until the other groups reach the same conclusions.

Re:OH a correction.... (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | about 2 years ago | (#40592731)

Unlike in Science, the masses typically don't accept a paper as end-all truth(unless we are talking Catholicism). It typically takes several groups to determine something is correct or wrong, and only followers of those groups end up agreeing. At least until the other groups reach the same conclusions.

Actually, that sounds a lot like Science. Competing labs/universities reach different conclusions; third and fourth parties try to replicate results; arguments and debates erupt over mailing lists and academic conferences; etc. And in the absence of consensus you end up with factions adhering to, say the Standard Model or one of the flavors of String Theory.

Re:OH a correction.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40590909)

I find it amusing that, since GOD is never wrong, mans worshop of that infallability ultimately leads to the disillusion that he is also, infallable. Quite the irony there.

NO IT DOESN'T (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40592215)

You liar.

> That is the one thing great about science. Science admits its wrongs...

"Science" as a group of people in a loosely related industry, is as pious and religious as any other group of people.

She didn't admit any mistake, question any methods, she gripped onto her statements with ego and a religious fanaticism. And it happens every day.

Stop the intellectual vanity, stop the bullshit.

Re:NO IT DOESN'T (2)

KhabaLox (1906148) | about 2 years ago | (#40592797)

She didn't admit any mistake, question any methods, she gripped onto her statements with ego and a religious fanaticism. And it happens every day.

Yes, but she's not the Pope. As other find flaws with her research, and these flaws are confirmed by multiple parties, then her findings (or "beliefs") will fall out of the general body of knowledge. If someone reaches a different religious conclusion, such as gay people can not be priests or bishops, then they will break off and form a splinter group (cf. recent happenings in the Anglican Church) and maintain that their beliefs are more valid than those of the original group. And due to our (read: American/Western) mores of religious freedom, we are inclined to not challenge them on it in any meaningful way.

When I walked in (0)

zibing (2638317) | about 2 years ago | (#40589183)

Replica Ray Ban sunglasses [replicaray...es3025.com] Wayfarer (hikers) series, since 1952, every year change. All the stars love it. More compared to the mystery of the kind of sparkling stars, were witty and playful, more particularly interesting and humane.

This year it launched the New York subway map, including flowers design and stripe texture, the base of color is cool color and suggestive such as color of set limit to style.

Audrey Hepburn in the morning walk, she wears Ray-Ban.

Transfer two information: the first, how much Tiffany shine, across the dark glasses can see clearly; second, was very popular Ray Ban sunglasses 3025 [replicaray...es3025.com] Wayfarer, two brands to Freemasonry after engaging in a cooperative Memorial section," pay tribute to Audrey Hepburn" is also quite good; third, Audrey Hepburn's face is the size of the palm should be worthy of the name, can cover most of his face, great!

On the Wayfarer, we know not less.

In addition to block the sun, they can best use face size measurement. From Hepburn to Olsen sisters, their heads are smaller than me about the circle. It's the sense of tragedy.

But, is not enough to have an invincible face, is to ensure that the facial features clear, at least tube straight nose.

Or cheeks meat toot to frame a" blind Bing" like sunglasses, please imagine the effect.

Of course, we cannot deny the Wayfarer decorative effect.

Especially in the mix building a style restoring ancient ways, absolute can wish you a hand, instantly back to the 50s.

But with round hat as well, and will not take.

As for what I wear ... ... Even if, face is not wrong, zoom out treasure can never forgive. However, occasionally to take it when the hair is very good, such as when the hair tied up, put it on his head, than the general big Ray Ban sunglasses sale [replicaray...es3025.com] come right.

Great job from commercial publishers (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589297)

The original study was published in Science, one of the most prestigious journals with high rejection rate. Just another proof highly selective journals by commercial publishers don't decide to publish based on technical correctness but on trendiness. Sensationalistic papers are accepted even if they are technically incorrect, technically correct but non trendy ones are rejected because they're too boring. This is the biggest problem with commercial scientific publishing, they have no incentive to publish correct science, only incentives to publish science that get them in the newpapers.

Re:Great job from commercial publishers (5, Insightful)

starless (60879) | about 2 years ago | (#40590431)

The original study was published in Science, one of the most prestigious journals with high rejection rate. Just another proof highly selective journals by commercial publishers don't decide to publish based on technical correctness but on trendiness. Sensationalistic papers are accepted even if they are technically incorrect, technically correct but non trendy ones are rejected because they're too boring. This is the biggest problem with commercial scientific publishing, they have no incentive to publish correct science, only incentives to publish science that get them in the newpapers.

I think that you're way overstating this. Although Science (and Nature) definitely want to publish high-impact science, and there's usually a need to do things very quickly, which increases the chance of error, papers are heavily refereed. The paper would have been sent to 3 referees, and to have the paper published, at least 2 of them would typically have had to agree to publication. In addition, "interesting" papers have a higher chance of being wrong that a run-of-the-mill paper appearing in some other journal which has no surprising results.

Re:Great job from commercial publishers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40592101)

High impact factor in journals correlates positively with retractation rates. http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/is-it-time-for-a-retraction-index/ So no I'm not overstating anything.

In addition, "interesting" papers have a higher chance of being wrong that a run-of-the-mill paper appearing in some other journal which has no surprising results.

Why do you tell me I'm overstating stuff if your last sentence basically confirm everything I just said. Journal defines "interesting" as either trendy or sensationalistic and the peer review of high impact factor journals selects those papers without even checking for technical correctness. High impact factor journals are basically tabloids that somehow convinced the world they are serious journals.

Re:Great job from commercial publishers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40593025)

That's not correct. In Nature and Science and also PNAS, papers can be accepted either without being reviewed at all, or with being negatively reviewed, both at the discretion of the often non-scientifically educated editor. This doesn't happen often, and mostly with papers from proven scientists only, but apparently with the very bad arsenic bacteria study, the NASA involvment was big enough to overlook the shortcomings, and to go straight for the sensation.

Re:Great job from commercial publishers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40593581)

How can a journal charging $15 to read a retractation notice can be considered nonprofit http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6041/404.1.full. So pay per article user must first pay to read the paper then pay $15 to read why it was retracted. They might be technically and legally non profit but they're certainly not non profit in spirit.

Re:Great job from commercial publishers (1)

the gnat (153162) | about 2 years ago | (#40592263)

This is the biggest problem with commercial scientific publishing, they have no incentive to publish correct science, only incentives to publish science that get them in the newpapers.

Science is not a commercial publication; it is produced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science [aaas.org], a non-profit organization. Many people have made the argument that the problem is with high-profile, "prestige" journals, who do frequently seem to favor publicity and high citation counts over sound science. However, the problem has absolutely nothing to do with commercial versus non-profit or open-access. Academics are just as hungry for publicity and trendiness as anyone else; we're certainly not in it for the money.

American (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589305)

America the false research paper company.

"looks like a case study in how science corrects.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589397)

Yes science is very good at correcting mistakes in controversial ideas. That is why everyone can be assured that things like the evolution theory are well proven now.
Where I sometimes have my doubts is about claims that sound logical, but are not really proven.

Always was unlikely (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589407)

The original study was flawed to its core and was believed by noone with a little bit of expertise... all the "controversy" thingy was just the media having fun.

A scientist

Life will find a way (0)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 2 years ago | (#40589423)

To keep those fat grant checks rolling in.

Yes, yes, Good Science has corrected Bad Science, but the people that did that Bad Science should go and consult on Discovery Channel "docu-dramas" rather than stinking up academia with their attention whoring claims.

Re:Life will find a way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40589781)

To keep those fat grant checks rolling in.

Yes, yes, Good Science has corrected Bad Science, but the people that did that Bad Science should go and consult on Discovery Channel "docu-dramas" rather than stinking up academia with their attention whoring claims.

You're thinking...aliens?

Re:Life will find a way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40592285)

They're just playing the stupid publication games. To get promoted, academics needs to publish in hight impact factor journals. To get more press high impact factor journals prefer publishing sensationalistic papers instead of boring technically correct ones.

Re:Life will find a way (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | about 2 years ago | (#40592849)

the people that did that Bad Science should go and consult on Discovery Channel "docu-dramas"

So you want them to peddle their Bad Science to the general public, who then go out and vote for School Board members?

I guess this is what happens (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40590575)

when you let women do science.

Re:I guess this is what happens (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40591183)

I don't want her to cook for me either.

More incomplete research (1, Interesting)

gr8_phk (621180) | about 2 years ago | (#40590687)

They 'clearly show' that the bacteria can’t use arsenic as the researchers claimed, said an accompanying statement from the journal.

Sounds like these folks made the same error as the original author. Let us not speculate on weather the arsenic has been assimilated into critical molecules inside the organism. Let them instead determine the chemical composition of the actual molecules in the organism and say definitively what is going on. I for one took the original research as somewhat speculative since they had not done this, and hence a call to others to do proper analysis. So now the others have apparently done more incomplete research. I may be misinterpreting that "can't use arsenic" is not the same as "does not use arsenic". It's hard to tell without reading the original works.

Re:More incomplete research (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40591073)

I've checked both papers (in fact have both of them opened right now...). Both papers show that the bacteria does not incorporate arsenic into DNA what so ever. It is sad that two research groups had to 'waste' their time proving what everyone already knew. I really mean _knew_ not assume. There were so many flaws in the original paper that it should have been shot down by the reviewers... but wasn't.

Stop foisting your beliefs on us with hoaxes (0)

umarekawaru (1030730) | about 2 years ago | (#40593637)

Thank you for the article, Timothy. I would have never seen the retraction without it. I would have kept on believing that bacteria can grow in any planetary environment. In 1996, NASA claimed Cyanobacteria where found in Meteorites - debunked in same magazine ( http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2057461,00.html [time.com] ). I am tired of scientists who foist their beliefs on us. In 1994, at the University of Bonn, Guido Zadel was found spiking the chemical solution in an experiment "proving" earth's magnetic field could select the correct building blocks of life. (Science, July 1, 1994). To explain, all living organisms are built out of left-handed amino acids enantiomers (See 1). But in a theorized prebiotic soup, right handed D (dextro) amino acids are ever-present in the solution 50/50. Like a poison to life, they produce useless malformed proteins because the amino acid chains fold in the wrong direction when proteins are manufactured. Currently, only fully-formed life can efficiently select L amino acids on the scale required to feed a living ( reproducing ) manufacturing plants of manufacturing machines that we call a cell. Breitmaier and Zadel were trying to "solve the problem" with a hoax and gain notoriety for doing so. Hoaxes require a motive. I think they are desperately trying to prop up their dead theory until they find that elusive evidence that exonerates it. In 1808, John Dalton started modern atomic theory. Decade after decade, it opened up avenues of research. We consistently generated scientific laws based on the initial premise — ultimately finding the Higgs Boson to complete the standard model. Darwin proposed evolution in 1859. By now, we should have scientific laws culled from the initial premise. We should not be finding lethal problems with the initial theory. Scientists are still mucking about with failed fruit fly experiments. They are on the 600th generation ( see 2 ). Anyone who claims to know the truth about the origins of life is following a religion no matter if it is disguised in the language of science. 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enantiomer [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiral#Chemistry [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amino_acid#Isomerism [wikipedia.org] 2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20844486 [nih.gov]

Re:Stop foisting your beliefs on us with hoaxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40593961)

Methodist Pastors regularly get caught stealing from the collection plate, Baptist Preachers are renowned for their drinking habits, and no sane person would leave their children alone with a Catholic Priest. Therefore, religion is completely bunk, and you're an idiot for participating.

Or... we could acknowledge that there are bad people in all walks of life, and that their exploits should not reflect negatively on those around them.

Since that's probably not an option though, I'll go ahead and point out your obscene double standard in completely disregarding only particular results from the field of life sciences, while wholly embracing the ones that agree with your worldview. You are why we, as a species. are fucked.

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