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NASA Finds Alien DNA in Californian Lake

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 83 comments

NASA has found DNA with a makeup we never thought possible.

Earlier this week we learned that NASA was gearing up to share some important information relating to an astrobiological discovery. Of course, our minds immediately turned to aliens. Still, deep down, we knew that NASA would not report that it had found Krypton, ALF, ET, or a Cylon war zone. No, though it would likely be something substantial, it would be altogether much more mundane than actual, real life, extraterrestrial aliens.

NASA's event is still a few hours away, but what would embargoed information be if there wasn't someone prepared to leak it a couple of hours in advance? Thanks to Dutch magazine NOS, we know that NASA has indeed found alien life. It's just not extraterrestrial.

Present in the toxic, arsenic-riddled Mono Lake in California is a type of bacteria with a DNA makeup we never thought possible. That is, the building blocks of life -- carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur – are not all present. As opposed to phosphorus, this bacteria's DNA uses arsenic.

So it's not extraterrestrial life, but it's definitely alien to us, as we thought absolutely everything was made up of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. The possibility of life outside this tiny, little planet we call home is now much more likely because we're not only looking for things with these specific building blocks.

More information will be available when NASA's press conference officially starts, at 2 p.m., so we'll keep you posted! 

Source: NOS (Dutch) via Gizmodo

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Top Comments
  • 29 Hide
    Anonymous , December 2, 2010 2:29 PM
    I for one, welcome our new arsenic based overlords
  • 21 Hide
    cynden , December 2, 2010 2:14 PM
    Beware the arsenic bacterial life-forms wearing old lace!
  • 20 Hide
    yellowblue , December 2, 2010 2:49 PM
    Bad news to environmentalists. Now we have to maintain the lake to be polluted to save the newly discovered life form.
Other Comments
  • 21 Hide
    cynden , December 2, 2010 2:14 PM
    Beware the arsenic bacterial life-forms wearing old lace!
  • 5 Hide
    Anonymous , December 2, 2010 2:18 PM
    No Covenants? What a relief...
  • 20 Hide
    SoiledBottom , December 2, 2010 2:23 PM
    Also found along side the DNA was empty crushed beer cans and used condoms
  • 7 Hide
    jonpaul37 , December 2, 2010 2:26 PM
    Fifteen Hundred years ago, Everyone knew that the Earth was the center of the Universe. Five Hundred years ago, Everyone knew that the Earth was flat. Five Minutes ago, Scientists knew that DNA was made up if 6 elements. Imagine what we'll "know" Tomorrow...
  • 29 Hide
    Anonymous , December 2, 2010 2:29 PM
    I for one, welcome our new arsenic based overlords
  • 0 Hide
    Silmarunya , December 2, 2010 2:29 PM
    I'm assuming you are referring to this: http://nos.nl/artikel/202302-nieuw-soort-leven-ontdekt.html ?

    The article doesn't say NASA believes the DNA to be alien per se. It only says that its composition is totally different from that of all known terrestrial DNA (as Phosporus is replaced by Arsenic in the bacterial composition. This still leaves open the possibility that the DNA originated on earth, but was formed under completely different circumstances than other life forms.

    The only significance this has, is that it proves that living organisms can use different basic building blocks than just phosphorus, nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and sulphur. But I thought most scientists already intuitively agreed with that these.

    Of course, the actual NASA broadcast might reveal totally different information, for example evidence that the DNA must be extra-terrestrial for some reason.

    Extremely minor nitpicking: NOS is a Dutch radio and TV station, so the news first appeared on TV, not in the online article.
  • 4 Hide
    horendus , December 2, 2010 2:31 PM
    To think the single most important discovery ever regarding the life in the universe was not found in soil on mars nor under the frozen ice sheets of titan, but here, on earth.

    Man kind has often theorized that the basic chemistry of life could be fundamentally different however there has never been evidence to prove this.

    Now we know without a doubt that many different forms of life can exist, from carbon to arsenic and perhaps to silicon (...and no I don't mean computer AI)

    This basically means that the amount of potential habitats in which life could have spawned outside of our planet has been dramatically increased.

    It also means the "bio genesis" looks to have occurred at least twice on our planet and proves without a doubt that our existence is no more unique than the next planet in which the chemical and energy conditions were enough to have started life.
  • 11 Hide
    SneakySnake , December 2, 2010 2:35 PM
    horendusTo think the single most important discovery ever regarding the life in the universe was not found in soil on mars nor under the frozen ice sheets of titan, but here, on earth.Man kind has often theorized that the basic chemistry of life could be fundamentally different however there has never been evidence to prove this.Now we know without a doubt that many different forms of life can exist, from carbon to arsenic and perhaps to silicon (...and no I don't mean computer AI)This basically means that the amount of potential habitats in which life could have spawned outside of our planet has been dramatically increased. It also means the "bio genesis" looks to have occurred at least twice on our planet and proves without a doubt that our existence is no more unique than the next planet in which the chemical and energy conditions were enough to have started life.


    I think your drawing way to many conclusions from this.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , December 2, 2010 2:36 PM
    This is OLD news!
    The announcement has to be MUCH more than a simple arsenic microbe being discovered because that story was ALREADY reported in May 2005!
    FIVE years ago people. Why would this be a major announcement if that is all there is to report now? Get with the story! NPR also reported this years ago as well! Here's the link for proof.
    http://toxics.usgs.gov/highlights/arsenic_bugs.html
    And also the possibility of ancient life on earth using arsenic from 2008.
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19826533.600-early-life-could-have-relied-on-arsenic-dna.html
  • -7 Hide
    jonpaul37 , December 2, 2010 2:42 PM
    SneakySnakeI think your drawing way to many conclusions from this.


    Actually, I agree with SneakySnake's comment 100%, there are WAY too many possible contributing factors that indicate life can be spawned under many different circumstances.

    Consider that scientists just put out an ASTONISHING number in regards to how many stars are actually out there in the universe. Sextillion!!! And if history repeats itself, someone in another 20 years will calculate an even greater number.

    EVERYTHING we know now is based on what we see in front of us and our perception of it. As time goes on, technology gets better and more discoveries are made. Literally, almost nothing is impossible, cept for God...
  • 12 Hide
    Marcus Yam , December 2, 2010 2:43 PM
    SilmarunyaI'm assuming you are referring to this: http://nos.nl/artikel/202302-nieuw [...] tdekt.html ? The article doesn't say NASA believes the DNA to be alien per se. It only says that its composition is totally different from that of all known terrestrial DNA (as Phosporus is replaced by Arsenic in the bacterial composition. This still leaves open the possibility that the DNA originated on earth, but was formed under completely different circumstances than other life forms.The only significance this has, is that it proves that living organisms can use different basic building blocks than just phosphorus, nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and sulphur. But I thought most scientists already intuitively agreed with that these.Of course, the actual NASA broadcast might reveal totally different information, for example evidence that the DNA must be extra-terrestrial for some reason. Extremely minor nitpicking: NOS is a Dutch radio and TV station, so the news first appeared on TV, not in the online article.

    The word "alien" does not strictly mean extraterrestrial. There are many other definitions, such as it being of something outside of current familiarity.
  • -4 Hide
    N.Broekhuijsen , December 2, 2010 2:44 PM
    SilmarunyaI'm assuming you are referring to this: http://nos.nl/artikel/202302-nieuw [...] tdekt.html ? The article doesn't say NASA believes the DNA to be alien per se. It only says that its composition is totally different from that of all known terrestrial DNA (as Phosporus is replaced by Arsenic in the bacterial composition. This still leaves open the possibility that the DNA originated on earth, but was formed under completely different circumstances than other life forms.The only significance this has, is that it proves that living organisms can use different basic building blocks than just phosphorus, nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and sulphur. But I thought most scientists already intuitively agreed with that these.Of course, the actual NASA broadcast might reveal totally different information, for example evidence that the DNA must be extra-terrestrial for some reason. Extremely minor nitpicking: NOS is a Dutch radio and TV station, so the news first appeared on TV, not in the online article.


    Not to mention the article doesn't even mention Alien in any form... What do you guys use to read these articles? Google translate?

    Anyways yeah NOS doesn't have a magazine, its just the online website, kinda like BBC.
  • 0 Hide
    jonpaul37 , December 2, 2010 2:44 PM
    correction, i agree with Horendus, not SneakySnake
  • -1 Hide
    JasonAkkerman , December 2, 2010 2:45 PM
    jonpaul37Fifteen Hundred years ago, Everyone knew that the Earth was the center of the Universe. Five Hundred years ago, Everyone knew that the Earth was flat. Five Minutes ago, Scientists knew that DNA was made up if 6 elements. Imagine what we'll "know" Tomorrow...


    Armageddon? Really? You are so fired.
  • -6 Hide
    dgingeri , December 2, 2010 2:46 PM
    horendusThis basically means that the amount of potential habitats in which life could have spawned outside of our planet has been dramatically increased. It also means the "bio genesis" looks to have occurred at least twice on our planet and proves without a doubt that our existence is no more unique than the next planet in which the chemical and energy conditions were enough to have started life.


    I believe you're reading too much into it.

    Also, given that over 95% of this galaxy has been bombarded in gamma radiation from various novas, neutron star and black hole collisions, and other astrophysical phenomena that life can't possibly exist as much as normal people keep thinking it does. Physicists understand that 95% of the galaxy is uninhabitable, normal people don't. Just the fact that we exist is such a crap shoot that it certainly can't be an accident. The universe is just too hostile.
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , December 2, 2010 2:47 PM
    offensively misleading headlines.
    they should be ASHAMED!
  • 0 Hide
    robwright , December 2, 2010 2:47 PM
    For the first time since I left, I'm glad I moved out of California....
  • -3 Hide
    the_krasno , December 2, 2010 2:48 PM
    Amazing news!! Imagine what would a humanoid arsenic based alien look like!
  • 20 Hide
    yellowblue , December 2, 2010 2:49 PM
    Bad news to environmentalists. Now we have to maintain the lake to be polluted to save the newly discovered life form.
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