Well, this is turning into a letdown of the microbe-on-Mars kind.
Just hours ago, we were on the edge of our seats waiting for a big announcement that NASA had found some new form of life on Earth, one that didn’t share the six elements that the rest of us find necessary to live and breathe.
A completely new form of life? Where did it come from? Outer space? A parallel line of evolution? Exciting! Exciting! Throw out yer Bibles, people!
Ah, calm down. Turns out it’s another underwhelming NASA snoozefest.
According to Nature, NASA’s big announcement will merely be that a bacteria found in California’s Mono Lake has figured out a way to replace phosphorous, thought to be one of the required building blocks of life, with arsenic, which it eats in its harsh environment.
Get ready for pointy-headed science types to try and convince you that this changes EVERYTHING, because it means that life is even more adaptable than we thought and it means that even in places thought unfriendly to Earth-life, some alternate living beings might find a way to get a toehold.
Yawn. Here we were hoping that something that had not evolved from everything else on the planet had been found, helping to advance either the panspermia theory or…or…SOMETHING.
Update: Well, this is embarrassing. CNN simply cut off NASA’s Felisa Wolf Simon midway through her presentation. Yeouch.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 2, 2010