Tuesday, 21 December 2010
I don't know if you have heard this, but science just got real. Recently, a bacteria was found in a salty lake that defies everything modern science has ever thought possible. This bacteria can substitute one of the six previously "essential" elements needed for life to exist. This is HUGE NEWS!
The bacteria uses Arsenic, a poison, in place of phosphorus to live. Until now, scientists claimed that for life to exist on Earth, the life form in question has to use either carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur or phosphorus to exist. No example has EVER been found that defies this rule of biochemistry. I know what you're thinking, "Who gives a shit?" Well, this little discovery has opened a whole bunch of new questions as to what can be possible.
For one, this life form indicates that life could have begun and ended many more times than we thought possible. Some speculate that this bacteria has been around before Earth had oxygen!
Think of it like this, if our ancestry can be traced back through a tree of life, this bacteria indicates a whole different species of tree. Life can exist outside our known understanding, also exciting news for alien enthusiasts everywhere.
If this bacteria can use such a harsh element to live, who knows how many planets and moons it can exist on. Previously we all thought life could only exist if the planet had water, an atmosphere, was the right distance from a star, etc. This shatters that notion, making it now possible for life to exist in some of the most inhospitable places in the Universe.
Imagine a world where these arsenic based life forms can thrive (a place radically different than our planet). What happens when they start to grow larger and more complex?
Damn science is cool.
What do you think about this breakthrough?