Life as We *Don’t* Know It

Scientists announced today that “life” as we know it may not be…well, as we knew it. A microbe was discovered that uses arsenic to replicate and grow (no phosphorous in its DNA)–changing the notions of what the fundamental building blocks of life are.

The discovery “does show that in other planetary environments organisms might be able to use other elements to drive biochemistry and that the ‘standard’ set of elements we think are absolutely necessary for life might not be so fixed.

What’s fascinating and titillating is that this isn’t some kind of extraterrestrial “alien” — it’s a microbe found right here in California! Which, of course, will spawn a million jokes about “life really is different in California…”

And speaking of spawning in California… Oh, nevermind.

>> Link: Arsenic-tolerant microbe raises possibility of new types of life on Earth, or elsewhere –

>> Link: Arsenic-Eating Bacteria Force New Thinking on What Constitutes Life –