Thursday, December 2, 2010

This Stuff Kinda Turns Me On

While I'm a foul-mouthed curmudgeon that finds poop jokes fascinating, I also get serious wood for science having to do with the search for life on planets not our own.  Thus, I'm waiting on the edge of my seat for more info on this story later, just minutes away:

"At their conference today, NASA scientist Felisa Wolfe Simon will announce that they have found a bacteria whose DNA is completely alien to what we know today. Instead of using phosphorus, the bacteria uses arsenic. All life on Earth is made of six components: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. Every being, from the smallest amoeba to the largest whale, share the same life stream. Our DNA blocks are all the same."

Long story short, these kids in white coats found a bacteria in Mono Lake, California, that is completely different from every single other organism on Planet Earth.  
What does this mean, for those of you who aren't sure why you should care?

Let's say everything on our planet is made of red Kool-Aid (not cherry!  Red.).   For millennia, we assume that any life that takes place ANYWHERE has to be made of Red Kool-Aid.  It becomes the standard that life, as we know it, is RED.

Now, say we find one tiny bacterium in some poisonous lake in California that is made of GREEN (not lime) GREEN Kool-Aid.  Where did it come from?  Why is it different from the billions of other species on the planet?!  How the hell did it evolve completely independently of anything else on Earth?!  Ack!

Essentially, this may change the fundamentals of what we know about life-- on Earth or elsewhere.  Wow.


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