Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

A Blow to Creationism: Arsenic-Based Microorganism Discovered in Mono Lake

Absolutely mind-blowing:

“NASA-funded astrobiology research has changed the fundamental knowledge about what comprises all known life on Earth.

Researchers conducting tests in the harsh environment of Mono Lake in California have discovered the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic. The microorganism substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in its cell components.

The definition of life has just expanded,’ said Ed Weiler, NASA’s associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. ‘As we pursue our efforts to seek signs of life in the solar system, we have to think more broadly, more diversely and consider life as we do not know it.’ …

‘The idea of alternative biochemistries for life is common in science fiction,’ said Carl Pilcher, director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute at the agency’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. ‘Until now a life form using arsenic as a building block was only theoretical, but now we know such life exists in Mono Lake.'”

This astonishing discovery has major implications for the search for extraterrestrial organisms, and implies that the emergence of life may be even more ubiquitous than scientists have long surmised.  So far we have limited our search to locales that meet the requirements of carbon-based lifeforms here on Earth.  We now have concrete proof that alternative lifeforms are possible, implying that life could potentially arise in a remarkably large spectrum of circumstances.

The revelation will undoubtedly lead us to reexamine locations within our own solar system that we had previously concluded to be lifeless.  Perhaps the most poignant lesson we can take from this breakthrough is the unfathomable tenacity of life.  It would seem that once the first extremely formidable obstacle of the initial development of life is overcome, the newly emerged organism will cling to existence against all odds, adapting to all circumstances and flourishing even where biology seems an impossibility.

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6 responses to “A Blow to Creationism: Arsenic-Based Microorganism Discovered in Mono Lake

  1. Jack Everett December 3, 2010 at 4:15 am

    At least this article did not use exaggerated buzz phrases… except in the title. If one believes things and life were created, a discovery does not invalidate that!… if not created then how are there the sub-particles that make up matter? Even others think those that believe in creation are off base, at least it gives them stability and purpose ..and IMO their churches and associated organizations ..except for a few.. provide more help to mankind on the ground than any anti-creation groups!

    • Andrew December 4, 2010 at 8:49 am

      The title was not an exaggerated catch phrase. The discovery does strike a blow to the traditional view of Creationism, since the find suggests that life could be far more widespread than previously thought. Granted, extraterrestrial lifeforms have not yet been discovered, but when (yes, when) they are Creationists will be required to either (a) expand their creation myth, or (b) reject it altogether.

  2. Karlton G. Kemerait December 3, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Let’s start with a simple question…if this is indeed a different species of life, and so, according to Creationists couldn’t have “evolved” but was specially created with all the other forms of life, then where did Noah get arsenic or water from Lake Mono for it to survive in the Ark?

    • Andrew December 4, 2010 at 8:55 am

      An astute observation. One might surmise that the bacteria survived in a pocket of arsenic-laced water, but I’m guessing most Creationists won’t give it any thought. After all, critical analysis (i.e. lack of “faith”) is considered a sin.

  3. Pingback: Arsenic-Based Life Study “Fatally Flawed”: Creationists Gloat Over Perceived Weakness of Science « Failed Empire

  4. Mark September 21, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Interesting to look back almost two years on this article and related comments only to find that further research shows that no arsenic exists in the bacteria’s DNA…keep looking…

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