NASA discovers bacteria that builds DNA from arsenic
Posted: 02 December 2010 06:05 PM   [ Ignore ]
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This just in:
http://gizmodo.com/5704158/nasa-finds-new-life.

Life “as we do not know it”—NASA.

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Posted: 02 December 2010 10:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I was very annoyed when the scientist the reporter on my local radio station interviewed about it used as an example ID’s ‘irreducible complexity’ argument.

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Posted: 02 December 2010 11:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I was also annoyed by most of the reporting.  I listened to an interview with the scientist who discovered this, and the story is much, much different from what the general reporting indicated.  This was a common bacteria that happened to live in Mono lake.  It uses phosphorus as part of its genetic makeup just as all living organisms do.  She extracted the phosphorus from its protein and was able to insert arsenic, an element in the same family, just one step heavier on the periodic table.  And the modified bacteria was able to survive.  It wasn’t a natural different bacteria, only one that had been changed.  What this showed was that the five elements, hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and phosphorus which were believed to be essential for all life on earth, and possibly everywhere, wasn’t quite true because she was able to make a small change and show that life could exist without using phosphorus. 

Occam

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Posted: 02 December 2010 11:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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That is how I understood it, glad to know (despite the bungled reporting), that I understood the gist.

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Posted: 03 December 2010 04:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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asanta - 02 December 2010 10:13 PM

I was very annoyed when the scientist the reporter on my local radio station interviewed about it used as an example ID’s ‘irreducible complexity’ argument.

What “scientist” was that? Sounds like a scientifically illiterate scientist.

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Posted: 03 December 2010 12:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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dougsmith - 03 December 2010 04:45 AM
asanta - 02 December 2010 10:13 PM

I was very annoyed when the scientist the reporter on my local radio station interviewed about it used as an example ID’s ‘irreducible complexity’ argument.

What “scientist” was that? Sounds like a scientifically illiterate scientist.

It was on the local news radio station, unfortunately, I did not get his name, I was more interested (initially) in the report. Either, that, or someone from the Discovery institute. He actually used a watch as an example, which immediately made me suspicious, and of course, he did not disappoint. Or rather, he did…

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Posted: 03 December 2010 09:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Occam. - 02 December 2010 11:52 PM

I was also annoyed by most of the reporting.  I listened to an interview with the scientist who discovered this, and the story is much, much different from what the general reporting indicated.  This was a common bacteria that happened to live in Mono lake.  It uses phosphorus as part of its genetic makeup just as all living organisms do.  She extracted the phosphorus from its protein and was able to insert arsenic, an element in the same family, just one step heavier on the periodic table.  And the modified bacteria was able to survive.  It wasn’t a natural different bacteria, only one that had been changed.  What this showed was that the five elements, hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and phosphorus which were believed to be essential for all life on earth, and possibly everywhere, wasn’t quite true because she was able to make a small change and show that life could exist without using phosphorus. 

Occam

Hmmm, so they created something and then claimed that they’d discovered it.
Isn’t there a big difference?
 
Very weird and disconcerting.  An awful way to taint what sounded like an interesting experiment.

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Posted: 04 December 2010 02:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I think the discovery that an organism could live without one of the five thought to be essential elements is far less newsworthy than “discovering a new organism”.  I don’t know, but I’ll be willing to guess that the scientist stated it that way and the news people converted it to the more dramatic statement.

Occam

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Posted: 06 December 2010 02:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Occam. - 04 December 2010 02:50 PM

I think the discovery that an organism could live without one of the five thought to be essential elements is far less newsworthy than “discovering a new organism”.  I don’t know, but I’ll be willing to guess that the scientist stated it that way and the news people converted it to the more dramatic statement.

Occam

Your probably right.
So why does the news media so often turn out to be a major impediment to getting “the science” across to people?

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Posted: 07 December 2010 03:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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The news media are a major impediment to getting science across to people because very few journalists understand science. Having gone through an excellent community college journalism program and working as a journalist for a few years I know that few journalists took any math beyond college algebra, and even fewer took science courses beyond what was required for a degree; and even in those cases they took liberal arts science courses, memorized enough to pass tests, and promptly forgot everything they supposedly learned. Journalists are also not trained in critical thinking.

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