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Review: Arsenic-based life and Astrobiology

3 Jul 2012, 20:02 UTC
Review: Arsenic-based life and Astrobiology
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

It’s been some time since the controvertial announcement that “arsenic-based life” had been discovered on planet Earth. With time, however, the less-sensational reality of the discovery has been made more clear, and I think it is sensible to review the current state of the research as it relates to the biochemistry of life and the idea of “alternative” biochemistries.
An Imminent Announcement
The recap: Making some serious waves back in November of 2010, NASA released a media advisory stating that a news conference would be held days later that would reveal “an astrobiology finding” that would “impact the search for extraterrestrial life.”
The journal Science strictly embargoed details until the news conference was held.
Of course, the internet went bezerk. NASA’s announcement, the first of its kind since the announcement of potential bacterial fossils in Mars meteoriete ALS-84001, seemed to hint to many that a rover had finally hit paydirt. Signs of extraterrestrial biology had finally been found!
However, the rampant speculation that followed only fueled an initial spike of disappointment with the actual announcement: that young biogeochemist and astrobiologist Felisa Wolfe-Simon led a research team that discovered, as was popularly-reported, “arsenic-based” life here on Earth.
Wolfe-Simon’s discovery ...

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