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Old 12-02-2010, 12:33 PM   #11
Minkey
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Re: Has NASA found (potentially) extraterrestrial life?

Very very interesting from what I understand (and I need to do more research) but the key point is that they have discovered a microbe that can 'substitute' one element for another. In this case arsenic for phosphorus, so what's the big deal about that, well it was believed that there are 4 major common elements required for the formation of life as we know it carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen though 2 further 'minor' elements are also required to being crucial in the formation of DNA and RNA – phosphorus (in particular) and sulphur.

This microbe does not require phosphorus as it can substitute arsenic with phosphorus in the formation of DNA – this is unique and goes against all other forms of life on Earth.

So what impact could this have?, what benefits can it potentially bring? Well 2 things spring to mind:

1. (lets get the ET one out the way first) – It means life can potentially exist in different environments not just those that have the previously agreed fundamental building blocks of life present. It essentially give us an much larger chance of finding life elsewhere in the universe as it's now not restricted to a 'New Earth'.

2. A microbe that can substitute on element for another !!! well this could open up huge possibilities, I'm only an interested amateur but imagine if we could understand how this works, imagine if we could we find other microbes or organisms that do the same thing with different elements erm that’s a form of alchemy!!

I'm glad I did not reply to Davep until this was broadcast, honestly the situation in New Orleans was/is (excuse my ignorance) pathetic and yes there should be more help given to them but this type of science is one that can fundamentally change preconceived ideas and open up new possibilities and ultimately benefit everyone (yes albeit in the long term).

You never know something like this could save the lives of the entire human race, ok that may be a bit far (certainly atm) but it would be ill conceived to dismiss this type of science as a waste. It could pave the way for cheap biofuels, renewable energy, elimination of certain pollutants etc. who knows!

If we never ventured out of the cave would we still be there now?
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