In a press conference later today, NASA will announce a breakthrough discovery: Bacteria in California’s Mono Lake that subsist off of arsenic. Initially, this admittedly does not seem like very exciting news at all, but as Ron Burgundy would put it, with noted understatement, it’s “kind of a big deal.” The ability to thrive on arsenic differentiates this bacteria from all other known forms of life on the planet, which rely on the six building blocks of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous, and sulfur. Thus the find alters our conception of how and where life can arise and the search for life on other planets.
Arsenic-eating microbe may redefine chemistry of life [Nature News/Nature]
NASA Finds New Life [Gizmodo]
NASA discovery to add new ‘element’ to life [AFP via Google]