discovering new ‘life’ as we know it

It’s coming. In fact, it may already be here.

NASA has announced that it has discovered a new form of ‘life’. This is based upon NASA-funded research in Mono Lake, CA which has discovered that a microbe, GFAJ-1, can live on toxic chemicals, without one of the elements previously thought to be essential to all life. Ed Weiler, NASA’s associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, declared:

“The definition of life has just expanded…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.”

Science previously concluded that all forms of life required six essential elements: carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, sulfur. GFAJ-1 substitutes the otherwise toxic arsenic for phosphorus, redefining what we previously understood to be the necessary context for ‘life’ on Earth. Because arsenic has been shown to be a successful substitute for phosphorus in the organism’s DNA, the formula  understood to be needed for life on other planets also changes. This means that in theory, sulfur no longer needs to be present on other planets in order to sustain life, which greatly increases the number of candidates for life-bearing environments in space.

Now, before you wet your pants, stop thinking about flying saucers and Erich von Däniken, and start thinking about the chemical components and environment needed for simple, microbial life. NASA researchers didn’t find intelligent life at the bottom of Mono Lake, they found and engineered microbes. It’s not intelligent life, but life nonetheless. This means that potential microbial life and ultimately intelligent life may also be discovered on planets that we previously dismissed as candidates for life.

Robert R. Cargill, Ph.D.

So, no, this discovery does not prove E.T. and it does not confirm what these nutjobs have been saying. It just means that a similar combination of elements needed for life on this planet may also be present elsewhere.

In fact, I seem to remember a guy on a show called Ancient Aliens refuting the nonsense that aliens gave us advanced weaponry, but adding in passing this prescient oracle (see the 5:38 mark):

“I think there is life – simple life, bacterial life, microbial life – on other planets. I think we’re going to find that. And who knows, maybe one day, we’ll find some other planet that is capable of sustaining life, that has evolved people over a long period of time that are also looking up at the stars wondering, “Is there anybody else out there? Are we the only ones?” – Robert R. Cargill, Ph.D.

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4 Responses

  1. So as to evidential quality it is less than the existence of Noah’s Ark.

  2. I love watching the show on ancient aliens. When I read Von Danikes’ book when I was 12 it was such a relief to have my wildest imaginings confirmed. Somehow I had always wondered about how humans went from hanging in trees to chopping them down. The evolution theory raise more questions in my mind than it answered. I am convinced that projects like SETI have their instruments pointed in the wrong direction, they should be monitoring the oceans for signs of extra terrestrial life. I have always found that the best place to hide from someone is right under their nose. There are so many different types of life that exist in the universe that to presuppose that we are the measuring stick for other types of life is arrogant and ignorant. As someone once said, our imaginations are our best link to the Divine. So if we can imagine it then somewhere it must exist. Which is why science fiction eventually leads to sicence fact.

  3. “These Nutjobs” DO add quite a bit of color and spice to things — at least when you don’t have to deal with them directly.

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