Thursday, December 02, 2010

The alien life in Mono Lake

NASA's astrobiologists have discovered a new form of life that uses arsenic, a toxic chemical, as a critical building block in its organic chemistry.

If you haven't read more about the discovery of arsenic-based life in California's Mono Lake, blog io9 has a great writeup of what it's all about, why it's such a big deal, and some of the implications - from the possibilities of new biofuels to the possibilities of life on Titan.

Alien life has been discovered right here on Earth. Nature is pretty incredible.

Mono Lake at sunrise, by John Muller.


Conor said...

This microbe is really interesting and it does change our view of what is necessary for life, but it's not alien. PZ Myer's blog has a more appropriate contextualization of this discovery:

C Neal said...

Thanks for the clarification, Conor. I was using the word "alien" in the sense that this is life unlike any we've ever seen before, not in the extraterrestrial sense. Given some of the hype that had preceded this announcement, that's an important distinction.