Latest in Science

Image credit:

NASA reveals arsenic-bred organisms, search for life gets broader parameters

Ross Miller
12.02.10
43 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

If you were hoping NASA was going to announce the very first tweet from an extraterrestrial being, sorry to break your heart -- it is astrobiological, but the findings are actually borne of this rock. Researchers in Mono Lake, California, have discovered a microorganism (pictured) that uses arsenic instead of phosphorous to thrive and reproduce. The latter, as far as terrestrial life is concerned, is a building block of life along with carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur, all integral to our DNA and RNA. Arsenic, meanwhile, is generally considered poisonous -- but "chemically it behaves similarly to phosphate," apparently making for a good substitution. In other words, NASA's proven that life can be made with components different than our current assumptions, both locally and beyond the stars. Seems entirely logical, if you ask us. (A silicon-based Horta, Mr. Spock?)

So, what about other atypical life-forming chemicals? NASA isn't speculating. That sound you hear is a thousand light bulbs popping up as science fiction writers everywhere conjure up brand new super villains -- and a thousand Chemistry professors writing new extra credit questions for their fall semester finals.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Share
43 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

Engadget's 2019 Back-to-School Guide

Engadget's 2019 Back-to-School Guide

View
Canon leaks its EOS 90D DSLR and mirrorless EOS M6 Mark II cameras

Canon leaks its EOS 90D DSLR and mirrorless EOS M6 Mark II cameras

View
Watch the Google Stadia event in 10 minutes

Watch the Google Stadia event in 10 minutes

View
HP's latest gaming headset delivers active cooling, noise cancellation

HP's latest gaming headset delivers active cooling, noise cancellation

View
Samsung's 32-inch Space Gaming Monitor makes room for your PC

Samsung's 32-inch Space Gaming Monitor makes room for your PC

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr