Arsenic-Eating Bacteria: Suggesting Alien Life?

Friday, December 03, 2010

It sounds like something you'd see in a late-night Sci-Fi flick: Scientists have discovered bacteria in a California lake that uses arsenic instead of phosphorous to survive. Arsenic is plentiful in the universe, and so bacteria that uses it to survive suggests the possibility of alien life. But just how likely is it that this bacteria exists in space?

We're joined now by Caleb Scharf, director of astrobiology at Columbia University, to answer some of the questions on this topic.   

CORRECTION: Original language in this segment stating the bacteria was engineered was incorrect. Thanks to our readers for the catch.


Caleb Scharf

Comments [2]

Bill Owen

Never been here before. Today I read you saying that the bacteria were engineered. This is wrong and actually subtracts from your point about alien life. The fact that these arose naturally is indicative that such conditions could arise elsewhere in the galaxy, the fact that could engineer such an organism is not.

Very very poor journalism that managed to miss one of the central aspects of the story.

Guess I won't be back! Bye!

Dec. 07 2010 05:23 PM

Your summary is extremely misleading. "Scientists have managed to engineer bacteria that uses arsenic instead of phosphorous to survive."
Scientists did not engineer these bacteria. They were discovered. Don't mislead the public.

Dec. 05 2010 10:53 PM

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