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GFAJ-1 is a very special bacteria. It can live without phosphorus, replacing it with arsenic.  (Source: Science/AACS)

The bacteria was found in an arsenic-rich lake in California.  (Source: Science/AACS)
Lifeform can ditch phosphorus, an "essential" nutrient, and use arsenic instead

In a special press conference on Thursday, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the discovery of a radically different lifeform that could survive on hostile alien environment.

To date all known living organisms required phosphorus to survive.  Phosphorus forms the backbone of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), forms the essential energy storage molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and provides other functions in organic chemistry.  Indeed phosphorus is one of six "essential" elements -- oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur, carbon and phosphorus -- that all organism are thought to share.

A remarkable new strand of bacteria in the proteobacteria family Halomonadaceae, dubbed GFAJ-1 has been discovered in Mono Lake, California.  The microorganism has the ability to use arsenic in the place of phosphorus, thriving in environments with lots of arsenic, but little to no phosphorus -- like Mono Lake.

Nicknamed "Strangia Phagia I" by the researchers, the bacteria has no known equivalents on Earth.  It marks the latest example of bacteria thriving in a hostile environment -- past discoveries include bacteria that grow in anaerobic (oxygen-lacking) environments, extreme heat, acidic environments, or salty ones.

The finding raises hope for astrobiologists, in that it shows that life could arise on alien worlds even if they lacked the exact same chemical composition of the Earth.  Felisa Wolfe-Simon of NASA's Astrobiology Institute and the US Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California comments, "Life as we know it could be much more flexible than we generally assume or can imagine."

Paul Davies of Arizona State University in Tempe adds, "This organism has dual capability. It can grow with either phosphorous or arsenic. That makes it very peculiar, though it falls short of being some form of truly 'alien' life."

He suggests that life may exist in the Earth's fiery hot mantle, outer atmosphere, or dry deserts.  He also speculates, "It could also be that this 'weird life' is all around us, intermingled with carbon-based life. If so, it's going to be hard to detect, as we would have to find a way to first filter everything out."

The study on the work is published (abstract here) in the AACS journal Science.

The results may be a bit disappointing to those hoping that the announcement would be a true alien lifeform.  However, they offer further validation of that infamous Michael Crichton quote from Jurassic Park, "Life will find a way."

Combined with recent laboratory discoveries that prove evolution can add new biochemical and physiological functionality to organisms, it seems hard to believe that sooner or later we won't find life that evolved on an alien world.  When found, that life may seem strange from a biochemical standpoint -- but then again, so are many lifeforms on Earth, like GFAJ-1.


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What I find interesting here...
By MrBlastman on 12/2/2010 3:45:11 PM , Rating: 3
Is that the bacteria was actually derived from phosphorous-using bacteria. It was essentially transplanted from a normal environment and placed in this arsenic-rich environment and instead of dying off, it rather adapted quite well in given what many would perceive as a toxic brew. If anything can additionally be taken from this discovery is the remarkable adaptability of our life here on Earth.

I find it humorous but understandable that this is a huge discovery. Don't get me wrong, this is a very important discovery indeed as it changes the landscape for our astronomers when they determine composition of planets and whether they may be potential candidates as well as researchers thinking of sending probes to alien worlds. However, what I find humorous is for quite some time many of us have theorized that life could exist that has vastly different molecular chains within their life-processes that radically differ from anything even remotely similar to life here on Earth.

Finally, we have at least a small bit of vindication. :)

Victory is ours--the whole world, that is. :)




RE: What I find interesting here...
By MozeeToby on 12/2/2010 3:50:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It was essentially transplanted from a normal environment and placed in this arsenic-rich environment and instead of dying off, it rather adapted quite well in given what many would perceive as a toxic brew.
Not quite. The bacteria was taken from Mono Lake, California. A lake with naturally high amounts of arsenic due to the fact that it doesn't have any outflow; about 200 times the safe drinking about for humans. It's thought that being able to swap out phosphorus for arsenic is a major evolutionary advantage there, since as the water level of the lake changes the amount of arsenic (in relation to the amount of water) changes. During unusual dry spells it's possible that this is the only bacteria that survives in the lake. It's highly unlikely that a typical earth bacteria could make the same switch.


RE: What I find interesting here...
By geddarkstorm on 12/2/2010 8:58:37 PM , Rating: 5
Likely not the case. There are many other known bacteria and even ferns that can survive such levels of arsenic. What's unique here, and the only thing that's unique to it, is the ability to metabolism arsenic in some useful way; not simply tolerate it.

That said, the actual study doesn't conclusively prove the arsenic is being utilized in the DNA rather than being bound to it non specifically the same way many metals, like copper, will do if exposed to it. It's likely it is being put into the DNA backbone (arsenic is the element right below phosphorus), but even the study says this incorporation amount does not exceed 10%. 90% of the DNA backbone is still phosphorus. Also, the arsenic is not shown to be used anywhere else, such as all the myriads of places phosphorus is used, like in ATP, in breakdown of glucose and metabolism as a whole, and in the regulation of proteins via phosphorylation. There's no evidence whatsoever that the arsenic is used in any of these processes, if it's even actually being put in the DNA.

Moreover, the arsenic isn't OBLIGATORY. That is, the organism does not require arsenic to live or carry out any function what so ever. This isn't about using arsenic for life, this is about tolerating arsenic in a new, and novel way when under nutrient starved conditions (it is not proven that no phosphorus was in the growing conditions either, as chelators were not used it appears! Correct me if I'm wrong).


RE: What I find interesting here...
By mcnabney on 12/2/2010 9:28:59 PM , Rating: 3
Thanks for the heads-up.

I was thinking Adenine Triarsenide?!?! A little bummed that it wasn't a complete substitution.


By Raraniel on 12/5/2010 2:53:12 PM , Rating: 2
Even if it's not a complete substitution, I still find it really exciting. We could be in the process of witnessing one of those branches on a phylogenetic tree.

Perhaps a million years from now a slew of "Anaephosphic" bacteria will have this little guy marked at the root of the branch, instead of the ambiguous "Last Common Ancestor" utilized today.


RE: What I find interesting here...
By MrBlastman on 12/2/2010 9:25:24 PM , Rating: 4
Did you watch the press conference today? I saw the lead scientist state that the bacteria converted from standard ATP to well, I guess I'd call it ATA (adenosine tri-phosphate to adenosine tri-arsenic). Well, she did say they didn't go completely phosphorous free but nearly.

Perhaps it is more akin to ADAP, adenosine di-arsenic phosphate. Not sure, I'll have to read the actual report or as close as I can get my hands on.

I'm with you though, and I neglected to catch the part where the lake might have naturally high levels of phosphate. Apparently this has been studied for a while:

http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2008/08/14/arsenic-b...

The difference is, instead of this bacteria using the arsenic to aid in the production of ATP, it is instead used in place of the phosphorous itself (or I heard her wrong in the interview).

I do agree--it is highly unlikely other bacteria could make the switch. What this study meerly proves is non-standard organic chains of energy production can exist outside the model we are so accustomed to on Earth. We finally have proof.


RE: What I find interesting here...
By MadAd on 12/3/2010 7:34:17 AM , Rating: 2
so developing a new being by rebuilding dna with arsenic instead may be possible?

and what would they be like? us?


By osalcido on 12/3/2010 7:55:35 AM , Rating: 2
Considering that the Arsenic-laden bacteria developed with huge interior vacuoles.. I would guess something more complex would be completely different


RE: What I find interesting here...
By CZroe on 12/3/2010 10:52:18 AM , Rating: 2
I'm more interested in what it means for life on Earth. For example, I believe that this means we may find more interesting life froms in Lake Vostok when we finally explore it despite the oligotrophic environment.


By KeithP on 12/2/2010 3:59:49 PM , Rating: 5
So I get this is important.

However, I despise the hype NASA tried to generate around it in an attempt to generate some interest hoping it will save their budget. Bad news guys, it will still be heading to the chopping block.

-KeithP




By Kosh401 on 12/2/2010 9:08:21 PM , Rating: 2
I don't mind the hype at all. It is a pretty significant find, and I'm sure it attracted the attention of many youth who now know about the six (seven?!) essential components of lifeforms. The chances of them ever learning about this stuff on their own (or even learning/remembering it from highschool bio) are pretty small.

Side note: I like how this find was made right here on Earth. I'm one of those who would like to see more money being spent exploring our own world more (esp the oceans), at least until we have a more practical means of space travel.


By akugami on 12/3/2010 2:17:30 AM , Rating: 5
Allow me to disagree with you. There is some despising to do but it should not be aimed at NASA. If you must hate on someone, hate on the last few presidents and the many politicians who have done almost nothing to fight for more funding for NASA.

I think NASA is backed into a corner. NASA is forced to make a big splash with their announcements to get back in the public conscious and to hopefully get more funding in the next round of budget meetings.

NASA is woefully underfunded compared to many other useless pet projects that politicians fund. NASA is responsible for many important discoveries that have enriched our daily lives and yet it's funds are cut on a regular basis.


I just love scanning for life forms!
By Randomblame on 12/2/2010 4:50:57 PM , Rating: 5
Life forms (da na na na na) you precious little life forms (clicky click click clack) where are you?




By sadffffff on 12/2/2010 5:02:29 PM , Rating: 2
lol, Data.


By morphologia on 12/2/2010 6:01:12 PM , Rating: 4
Maybe the first extrasolar life form we find will be a sentient machine. One that looks like a radioactive albino who uses too much hair gel. LOL.


Whaa? My weekend party is ruined!
By DoeBoy on 12/2/2010 4:25:27 PM , Rating: 2
Whaa? No space aliens yet? My entire weekend is destroyed.
I was going to host a welcome to earth party... I certainly think Nasa needs to step it up and deliver some real results!




By morphologia on 12/2/2010 4:29:06 PM , Rating: 3
I suppose they could fake an alien autopsy or something. Would that cheer you up?

:p

It's not NASA's fault. These aliens are more elusive than interstate deadbeat dads.


selenium!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
By RugMuch on 12/2/2010 5:10:19 PM , Rating: 2
Do I really need to reference the movie Evolution?

selenium!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




RE: selenium!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
By dayanth on 12/2/2010 7:54:58 PM , Rating: 2
Wayne, I think we've established that "Ka Ka" and "Tukki Tukki" don't work.


Sorry...had too...
By cgadragon on 12/3/2010 1:21:11 AM , Rating: 3
Whoopity doo!
By Ammohunt on 12/2/10, Rating: -1
RE: Whoopity doo!
By ClownPuncher on 12/2/2010 3:55:16 PM , Rating: 2
In science, you kinda want to try and prove your theories. Yea, it's a big deal. Just because some of us though the world was round long before it was proven doesn't mean the general populace accepting such facts was NOT an earth changing event.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By Ammohunt on 12/2/10, Rating: -1
RE: Whoopity doo!
By morphologia on 12/2/2010 4:33:54 PM , Rating: 4
Science is not religion. Science requires and utilizes fact and proof. Religion thrives, even depends, on the absence of fact and/or proof. The less proof there is, the more fanatically devoted the belief.

Frivolously casting doubt on an accepted and proven principle is not the same thing as proposing a valid alternate explanation. Just like the absence of evidence does not constitute a conspiracy.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By Ammohunt on 12/2/10, Rating: 0
RE: Whoopity doo!
By morphologia on 12/2/2010 5:13:03 PM , Rating: 2
I don't have to prove plate tectonics. That was done over half a century ago. And yes, I know what wave-particle duality is. It's a property of energy, not matter. Pseudo science is that which is unproven in any scientific manner yet garners a devoted, dogmatic following despite a lack of validity. The flat-earth theory was propagated by casual observation and was not proven by experiment...it was eventually disproven by experiment. And science only requires faith in order to obtain proof. It doesn't build its house on the shifty foundation of faith alone.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By morphologia on 12/2/2010 5:14:40 PM , Rating: 1
By the way...it's not practical to try to intimidate people by throwing out complicated concepts that you yourself don't understand. That's a recipe for embarrassment.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By Ammohunt on 12/2/10, Rating: 0
RE: Whoopity doo!
By morphologia on 12/2/2010 5:31:35 PM , Rating: 2
It has only been proven in bosons and leptons, the particles that convey forces, like light and electromagnetism. It is postulated but not demonstrated in any other fundamental particle, to my knowledge.

And do you really want to hang your hat on a 30-second glance at a Wikipedia page?


RE: Whoopity doo!
By Ammohunt on 12/2/10, Rating: 0
RE: Whoopity doo!
By morphologia on 12/2/2010 6:10:59 PM , Rating: 1
I'm not doubting Wikipedia. I'm doubting that you even had a firm grasp of the concept before a few minutes ago, when you Googled it at the speed of light.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By Ammohunt on 12/2/2010 6:28:48 PM , Rating: 1
fair enough; Truth be know i knew of the phenomenon just didn't know what it was called hence wikipedia.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By invidious on 12/2/2010 5:48:19 PM , Rating: 1
This life form can live in ways that others can't, understanding how it achieves this could lead to advances in medical or genetic technologies.

Science does not require all things to have a greater purpose nor does it require us to have absolute understanding. We make the best of what we have. Your notion that science doesn't matter or that it is somehow wrong because it can't explain everything is moronic.

PS: You can't explain everything either so by your own logic we shouldn't give shit what you say.

PS2: Bringing up obscure unrelated topics to make yourself seem knowledgeable doesn't make anyone think you are smart, it makes them think you are a smug prick.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By ekv on 12/3/2010 12:16:36 AM , Rating: 1
Argh!
quote:
Science does not ... require us to have absolute understanding.
So it's a matter of faith?

And then substitute "religion" for "science" and you get...
quote:
Your notion that religion doesn't matter or that it is somehow wrong because it can't explain everything is moronic.
I know you're making the best of what you have in replying to the other person ... but your argument isn't too convincing.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By MozeeToby on 12/2/2010 5:37:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Prove plate tectonics!
Prove is an ugly word in science but the nail-in-the-coffin piece of evidence in support of plate tectonics is symmetric magnetic field stripes on both sides of the mid-ocean rifts. See here https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Vin... for a quick explanation.
quote:
"Know what Wave–particle duality is?
Yes, it's the fact that all matter and energy behaves as both a particle and a wave until an observation is made which requires it to be one or the other. It's mind blowing, it's way outside our regular day to day experience, and yet, carefully constructed experiments can demonstrate that it is in fact the way the universe works.
quote:
How can you build scientific fact on top a basic current day mystery of matter? Doesn’t all derivatives in relation become pseudo-science? e.g. "the earth is flat! i most certainly will fall off its edge if i sail my boat too far into the ocean."
Huh? Are you saying that you don't understand and can't accept wave-particle duality, therefore all of human experience is null and void, since all of human experience involves matter? That's just... this will probably be my last post in debate with you, clearly there will be little to gain from continuing.
quote:
Science requires a lot of faith my friend no different than any other world religion.
There's one key, huge difference between science and religion. If you really wanted to know about science, you could lock yourself in a room and recreate it from the ground up (oh, it might take a few thousand years, even assuming you're a genius, but you could do it). Baring that, you can pick a single area to study; ask experts to explain the things you don't understand, recreate research you doubt, re-derive the equations that don't appear to make sense. You can verify !

And you know what, if it turns out you were right all along, there's a glaring error in something fundamental to science, you'll be praised by the scientific community for discovering it. Yes, you will realistically have to put in the time to become a respected member of the community, you'll have to have a thorough understanding of the current theory, you'll have to provide extraordinary evidence to prove your point, but if you're right you will eventually be praised.

Now, lock yourself in a room with a Bible (throw in all the other non-cannon works too for good measure), wipe from your mind everything you've learned in theology classes and read it from scratch with a blank slate. Will you come up with the same exact rules and laws, the same exact same interpretations, will you even determine that the same books are cannon? And if you do find something that modern religion irrefutably, unarguably, just plain got wrong, what do you think the reaction from the establishment would be?


RE: Whoopity doo!
By Ammohunt on 12/2/10, Rating: 0
RE: Whoopity doo!
By SPOOFE on 12/2/2010 7:10:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What I meant to convey is that many "facts" or truths are built upon non-facts i.e. non-truths or lies;

You lack comprehension of terminology. Your protests are entirely semantic in nature. The theory of plate tectonics is merely an explanation for observed facts. There is no better theory to explain those facts.

"Non-truth"? Science doesn't care about truth. You fail.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By MozeeToby on 12/2/2010 3:58:40 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, but this is kind of a big deal. It is essentially saying that a non-standard biology is possible. This is literally taking something we believed was universally poisonous to all earth life and using it as an essential nutrient. That's impressive.

It's a bit dissapointing that it can swap between phosphorous and arsenic though, since if it couldn't it might imply a non-common origin from the rest of Earth life. It's still cool to see that different biochemistries are possible though, if nothing else it means that phosphorous is no longer on the list of requirements when searching for possible alien life off of Earth.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By morphologia on 12/2/2010 4:03:28 PM , Rating: 2
The only truly wrong thing here is that NASA should not be the ones making this announcement. It should be some more qualified agency, perhaps an esteemed university or research lab...full of what you call "elitist small minded biologists," who in fact are the only ones that really know anything about this stuff.

It tends to be the followers of pseudoscientific crap science that refer to the consensus of the real scientific community as "small minded."


RE: Whoopity doo!
By Ammohunt on 12/2/2010 4:13:10 PM , Rating: 3
No just people like Albert Einstein that can think outside of the rigid scientific ideology that’s taught in university auditoriums all over the world.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By morphologia on 12/2/2010 4:18:13 PM , Rating: 2
Einstein? Really? You're referring to someone that made the scene in 1905, wasn't recognized for it until 1921, and spent the rest of his life stubbornly, ideologically, trying to either disprove or incorporate the next big thing in science after his relativity theories (quantum mechanics). When he made the scene, science was as you describe it...rigidly ideological all over the world. Nowadays, with the ability to share data instantly, the only people crying about "rigid ideology" are the people whose pet theories have no scientific basis and therefore receive no consideration by the community at large.

So, which pet theory is it for you, that you're going all Ben Stein and lashing out at the scientific world? I.D.?


RE: Whoopity doo!
By Ammohunt on 12/2/2010 4:36:45 PM , Rating: 1
If Einstein had presented his idea today with his background (self taught patent clerk) he would have been laughed at by those in the scientific community and labeled a heretic just like. The religion of Science as it sits today does not deviate from established norms held rigidly by those considered to know all there is to know about a given subject read up on Edward Witten and his M-Theory.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By morphologia on 12/2/2010 4:43:53 PM , Rating: 2
Ed Witten and M-theory receive plenty of consideration all over several fields, including mathematics and astrophysics, despite the lack of practical experimental procedures capable of validating the theory. There's no "religion of science" coalition refuting that...though there is something of a stonewall in regards to Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND).

You're denouncing science as a whole. That's more than a little bit unscientific. How can a point of view that disregards science entirely be considered scientific?


RE: Whoopity doo!
By Denigrate on 12/2/2010 4:55:49 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think he's denouncing science, but rather the "scientific community" which is a rather closed group who want to keep alternative theories that jeopordize their funding at bay.

It's all about the money really.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By morphologia on 12/2/2010 5:02:33 PM , Rating: 2
Amazing that people can say things like that and believe it, even though it involves believing in things they have made no effort to prove and simply state as a common (fallacy) belief. People have comparable conspiracy theories about Obama's birth certificate, the moon landing, and the idea that Bush ordered a missile strike on the WTC.

Even those who actually endured unfair denigration at the hands of the establishment (like Galileo and Copernicus) were eventually proven to have valid theories. All the proponents of unaccepted theories have to do is to, in some small way, provide even the most minor validation of their alternate theory. Daydreaming on a blog does not constitute research, and it's not like you can get a "participant" award just for being there. Real science requires work, work to PROVE your own theory, not just to attack the competition's credibility with accusations of grand, corrupt collusion.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By Ammohunt on 12/2/10, Rating: 0
RE: Whoopity doo!
By morphologia on 12/2/2010 5:25:57 PM , Rating: 2
Of course you do not. Because "the truth is out there" and you'll know it when you see it...in the lurid and hastily scribbled diagrams on someone's conspiracy blog.

I'm not taking anyone's word for it, just the research. I just like facts. The universe is built of facts. Only by obtaining the right facts can a theory establish its place in the universe.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By Ammohunt on 12/2/2010 5:36:50 PM , Rating: 1
Hardly, you would like to believe i am one of the conspiracy theory nutters it would make your arguments easier; sorry to disappoint. What we call facts only exist within the human conciseness and nowhere else in the grand scheme of human existence they are rendered completely meaningless and futile perhaps after sol super nova’s Billions? Millions? Thousands? Of years from now. I personally think its only human vanity to think we even have a rudimentary understanding of what we call reality is people like you find comfort in your “facts” proof of your existence helps you sleep at night perhaps.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By morphologia on 12/2/2010 5:40:55 PM , Rating: 2
You have no purpose beyond attacking the generally accepted concepts of reality, do you? Thinking that there could be some other more exotic explanation is not the same as proving it to be so. You might as well just attend scientific lectures and shout "No, it's not...no they haven't...no it didn't" whenever a lecturer makes a statement.

I have no problem with alternate theories, provided they are supported by the science and not just a desire to be contrary.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By Ammohunt on 12/2/2010 6:26:41 PM , Rating: 2
If you think I am being contrary just to be contrary you are not paying attention. Again you defer to a so called expert for your definition of reality; I would never shout at lecturer that would be rude and pointless.

It’s your preference to have a need of theories and the scientific method to define your existence. You can’t prove to others that the voice in your head is really you or that it exists at all can you? Yet that voice in your head is exactly what you are so desperately trying to convince that any of what you sense is truly factually there; human desire to find comfort in knowing. Hypothetically speaking of course.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By SPOOFE on 12/3/2010 12:06:05 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
What we call facts only exist within the human conciseness

I assume you meant "consciousness"; regardless, this is an asinine justification for doubting of facts. One's point of view is, thus far, absolute, and it cannot be changed. One does, in fact, have an inherently limited and subjective view of the universe.

Luckily, best as we can tell, there is far more than "one" being with a distinct and unique point of view. While it is possible there is only "one" consciousness imagining all these other consciousnesses, there is no definitive reason to believe it. Ergo, the only rational assumption is that our perceptions - the perceptions of many, many individuals - that corroborate each other should be taken as fact. It is not a consensus that creates fact, it is what allows us to conclude that the measurements of a billion individual perceptions are accurate enough.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By Ammohunt on 12/2/2010 5:00:59 PM , Rating: 1
Its called common sense; fire burns i don't need an expert in the field of chemical reactions causing flame to tell me their theories on the subject. Anyone can be an observer and find their own proof it only matters when you have a disagreement with others proof. In modern Science that disagreement either never happens because of rigid religious beliefs or no product comes from it i.e. discredited and buried out of the gate. “Grass is good! 1000 Moo Cows can’t be wrong!”


RE: Whoopity doo!
By morphologia on 12/2/2010 5:17:00 PM , Rating: 2
What in the name of Johannes Kepler is this supposed to mean??


RE: Whoopity doo!
By Calindar on 12/2/2010 8:00:11 PM , Rating: 2
You make it painfully, painfully obvious that you have absolutely no idea how science works.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By kerpwnt on 12/3/2010 1:03:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Its called common sense; fire burns i don't need an expert in the field of chemical reactions causing flame to tell me their theories on the subject.

I see what you have written, but all I can hear is this:

"F***ing magnets, how do they work?
And I don't wanna talk to a scientist
Y'all motherf***ers lying, and getting me pissed"

ICP doesn't think the "experts" know what they are talking about either!


RE: Whoopity doo!
By MozeeToby on 12/2/2010 5:00:07 PM , Rating: 2
Kind of funny, the self taught patent clerk part. It's amazing how many people forget Einstein was not self taught. He attended secondary school in the capital of Austria and graduated from the Zurich Polytech with a degree in Mathematics and Physics. He then pursued and received his PhD in physics from the University of Zurich.

It was only after receiving his PhD, and incidentally making contacts among many of the most famous physicists of his day, that he produced his first four ground breaking works. And his first four works were so breathtakingly brilliant that he was recognized as a leader in the field less than 2 years later.

As for Edward Witten and M-Theory, I don't quite follow your argument. His Wikipedia page at the very least certainly makes it sound like he is highly respected in his field, despite the fact that the theory he is most well known for makes absolutely no testable predictions. If your theory and math are so persuasive that you convince the majority of other scientists to agree with you while offering no empirical evidence (or even the possibility of empirical evidence), your peers almost by definition have the utmost respect for you.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By Ammohunt on 12/2/2010 5:05:55 PM , Rating: 2
When the 11th dimension to bind them all together was first proposed(as i recall) it was outright; and in some cases bitterly rejected. it being taken seriously now, is a recent event based on others work supporting the possibility.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By morphologia on 12/2/2010 5:22:16 PM , Rating: 2
It was only scoffed at until it was shown (mathematically) that it made things work a whole lot better. There was no mass consensus fo "this is false" because it could neither be proven nor disproven by experiments. How can you map a Calabi-Yau multidimensional structure in real space when you're dealing with scales that make subatomic particles seem like planets? We can't scan at the Planck length...we don't have any measurement technique capable of that.

Right now we are at a drawing-board only phase. It would be foolish now to either accept it as fact or reject it as false.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By Ammohunt on 12/2/10, Rating: 0
RE: Whoopity doo!
By morphologia on 12/2/2010 5:50:53 PM , Rating: 2
Witten provided mathematical proof. Anyone with a seemingly wacko theory can validate it simply by providing proof. Not everyone can do that though, which results in what you call discrimination by the "religion of science," and what I call waiting until the race is over to name the winner.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By SPOOFE on 12/3/2010 12:15:27 PM , Rating: 1
I call it "healthy skepticism". Very few theories are accepted within even a few years of its papers being published. Look how many decades it took for black holes or dark matter to enter the accepted scientific lexicon.

I think your view of the scientific community is very skewed.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By FITCamaro on 12/2/2010 8:05:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
the only people crying about "rigid ideology" are the people whose pet theories have no scientific basis


Stop picking on Al Gore and all the other man-made global warming drones.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By Calindar on 12/2/2010 7:55:14 PM , Rating: 1
If the biologists were small minded, they would pretend this bacteria doesn't exist to protect their pre-conceived understandings.


RE: Whoopity doo!
By bh192012 on 12/3/2010 4:51:41 PM , Rating: 1
Known better than what? They didn't say they were going to have an earth shattering announcemnet. They said they were going to have a news conference

"to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life."

(Translation, "Now we will make sure to equip our probes and telescopes to detect arsenic.")

If you believed the random internet speculation, that's your own damn fault. To me it sounded like they were going to announce something fairly mundane, notice they didn't say "huge impact."


It's nothing but pure B.S.
By MartyLK on 12/2/10, Rating: -1
RE: It's nothing but pure B.S.
By MartyLK on 12/2/10, Rating: -1
RE: It's nothing but pure B.S.
By FITCamaro on 12/2/2010 8:02:02 PM , Rating: 2
How are things in batshitcrazyville?


RE: It's nothing but pure B.S.
By MartyLK on 12/2/2010 11:11:30 PM , Rating: 1
A hell of a lot better than there in closedmindeddumbassville


RE: It's nothing but pure B.S.
By johnsonx on 12/3/2010 12:59:23 PM , Rating: 2
lol FIT, lol!


$13 Trillion in debt
By ZachDontScare on 12/2/10, Rating: -1
RE: $13 Trillion in debt
By morphologia on 12/2/2010 5:07:11 PM , Rating: 3
That's false. We won't be $13 trillion in debt unless the Bush tax cuts are extended and kept for another 5 years or so. And I get the feeling that it's more the taxes themselves, and not the uses to which the funds are put, that occasion your objection. Last but not least, the companies cut R&D in order to fund their CEO's retirement, not to pay taxes. The taxes you are talking about are assessed on the money they make , not the money they spend .


RE: $13 Trillion in debt
By IamKindaHungry on 12/2/2010 5:37:53 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That's false. We won't be $13 trillion in debt unless the Bush tax cuts are extended and kept for another 5 years or so.


Debt clock has us at $13,834,918,581,977.03 were getting closer to 14 trillion.. sorry for being petty, but correct reporting of the debt is one of my many OCD's

http://www.usdebtclock.org/


RE: $13 Trillion in debt
By morphologia on 12/2/2010 5:48:27 PM , Rating: 1
It doesn't have to be, not unless we continue to be misled that we just can't live without the tax cuts, which are one of the biggest contributors to that fiscal disparity. We could cut the debt in half in 5 years if we went back to the old tax levels.


RE: $13 Trillion in debt
By melgross on 12/2/10, Rating: 0
RE: $13 Trillion in debt
By Solandri on 12/2/2010 7:34:28 PM , Rating: 5
Keep in mind the budget is not determined by the President. The President submits a proposal, Congress makes all sorts of tweaks to it, and the President signs off on it.

When Clinton was in office, the Republicans won control of Congress. The two of them working in opposition resulted in lower expenditures and lower taxes.

When Bush won office, the Republicans maintained control of Congress, and they went on a spending and tax cutting spree which multiplied the debt.

When Obama on office, the Democrats won control of Congress, and they went on a spending spree which ballooned the debt. (And no blaming it on Bush. If you choose to blame Bush for the economy tanking just as Obama took office, then you must blame Clinton for the economy tanking just as Bush took office. You can't have it both ways.)

Truth is, every time one party controls Congress and the Presidency, they get it in their heads that the public has given them some sort of "mandate" to enact their ideology, and they go off on some wild ideological spending spree where apparently the rules basic fiscal math and sound accounting no longer matter.


RE: $13 Trillion in debt
By ekv on 12/3/2010 12:27:15 AM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't mind if some person/movement/new-life-form went off on some wild ideological path to cut the national debt in half, lower taxes AND 'grow jobs' [hate that term, but you get the idea], etc.


RE: $13 Trillion in debt
By gamerk2 on 12/3/2010 2:01:16 PM , Rating: 2
How about this: A one time, 20% across the board tax an an individuals/companies WEALTH.

Poof. $5 Trillion off the books.

After that, replace the income tax with a wealth tax (No more hiding income in investments and taking the 17% hit instead of the 37% one).

Problem solved.


RE: $13 Trillion in debt
By ekv on 12/3/2010 2:56:50 PM , Rating: 2
But then you'd have to hire big-wigs to staff a commission, wait for their report, hire another commission to study how to implement the first commissions ideas, then wait for the report, then hire another commission to study how to advertise the positive benefits of implementing all these ideas, then hire more IRS people to investigate all this "hidden" wealth, then hire IRS enforcers to collect this money ....

Blah. By the time you actually get that 20% it'd be more like 10%, and the political blowback would make Health Care reform look like a puff of wind compared to an F5.

Interesting idea. But I really don't care about how wealthy anybody is. If you want to hoard go right ahead since it's still a relatively free country. If you want to give a couple extra billion in taxes, you're free to do that too. But don't force me to pay extra, since then it is no longer a free country.

Look, if you're so enamored with this idea, why not get on Oprah and convince all the rich people in the country to give 90% of their WEALTH to the gov't. Surely if they are so rich then they can live off the remaining 10%, no? and it's for the good of the country, no? and the gov't didn't force anybody. [I can hear it now, "No laws were enacted in the murder of the National Debt"].

And as a show of good faith, you can start with your own 90%.


RE: $13 Trillion in debt
By SPOOFE on 12/2/2010 7:13:10 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
We could cut the debt in half in 5 years if we went back to the old tax levels.

We could cut the debt in half AND reduce taxes even more. We won't, but we can.

The myopic focus on "the Bush tax cuts" just reveals your ignorance: This country has a spending problem. Raise taxes and spending will just rise, too. Debt cut - none.

Brilliance.


RE: $13 Trillion in debt
By gamerk2 on 12/3/2010 2:08:07 PM , Rating: 1
No, I think you've shown your ignorance: Spending creates economic growth, which creates jobs, which creates taxes. As such, any government spending that leads to jobs is perfectly acceptable.

Secondly, the debt doesn't matter. Only the debt, as a percentage of GDP matters. Ignoring GDP in haste to lessen the debt numbers will cause more far economic problems down the road.

Thirdly, even if you cut every non-essential government program, the US would STILL be running a deficit.

Fourthly, the US will be in deep economic trouble, regardless of the debt. With 2% of the population holding 80% of the wealth, basic economics state the economy will eventually collapse due to alack of consumer spending. As per usual, the rich make out like bandits, and the rest of us get screwed. In people, in their ignorance, buy the voodoo economics shoved down our throats since the early 80s.


RE: $13 Trillion in debt
By ekv on 12/3/2010 2:45:36 PM , Rating: 2
Government spending does not create jobs. Gov't money came from taxes, fees, etc. You're just moving money from some place it was employing somebody to another place -- and given gov't largesse and INefficiency, read Rangel, that means less employment.

I can compromise on 2nd and 3rd. Your 4th point for going after wealth is simply Socialist (if not Communist). You'd wind up with more gov't and less efficiency, which is the opposite of what you sound like you want.


RE: $13 Trillion in debt
By SPOOFE on 12/4/2010 4:05:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Spending creates economic growth

Private spending creates economic growth. Government spending does not.

quote:
Secondly, the debt doesn't matter. Only the debt, as a percentage of GDP matters.

Why? Because tax revenue collected has never exceeded a consistent relationship with GDP. However, collect too much tax and revenue for economic growth goes down. The GDP goes down. The debt, however, stays the same, so a drop in the GDP is essentially the same as a rise in debt.

quote:
Thirdly, even if you cut every non-essential government program, the US would STILL be running a deficit.

This just means that our national definition of "essential" is skewed. Are you referring to obligatory expenditures? Because we can cut those. The world won't end if Social Security does.

quote:
With 2% of the population holding 80% of the wealth, basic economics state the economy will eventually collapse due to alack of consumer spending.

No, it doesn't. There's no magical, physical limit to the amount of "wealth" that can exist.

quote:
As per usual, the rich make out like bandits, and the rest of us get screwed.

Ah, yes, the old "all rich people are crooks" canard. I'm sure it helps you feel better about the lack of ambition in your own life. However, most rich people earned their money. Every penny. Just like how most poor people earned their financial situation, too.

The majority of all millionaires in this country are first-generation rich. Sounds like all you have to do is work hard and be smart. Wow! Those dastardly bandits! How DARE they work their asses off?!? Such arrogance. We should punish them by taking their stuff and giving it to people that won't appreciate it. THAT'll save the economy. Brilliance!


RE: $13 Trillion in debt
By JediJeb on 12/6/2010 5:21:34 PM , Rating: 2
It's funny how people want to be "fair" about taxes yet think the rich should pay all the bills. The only "fair" tax situation would be one that has every person paying the same percentage of their income or wealth in taxes. IF we are going to have an income tax, then it should extend at the same rate to EVERY earning made, even tax welfare checks because then those who live off of it will get a feeling of what those who are working and making the same amount feel like as they pay for that welfare.

Also the thing most don't understand when they spout the idea of "tax the rich on their wealth" is what their wealth is made of. Most of it is their ownership of stock in almost everything out there. So if you charged them a 20% tax on their "wealth" the rich would probably be forced to sell off a lot of their stock to pay the taxes and guess what that would do to the economy. A mass sell off to pay taxes would cause a severe drop in the stock market which would kill most peoples retirement and savings plans and really dump the economy into a depression. Most rich people do not have stacks of cash in the bank, they have investments, and their "worth" is figured from their investments not cash in their pockets.


Fascinating Discovery
By wgbutler on 12/2/10, Rating: -1
RE: Fascinating Discovery
By morphologia on 12/2/2010 5:58:17 PM , Rating: 2
It's even more sad to consider it a big deal when science "bashes" religion. Science and religion have different criteria for validity...science waits for proof, and religion labors under the premise of presumption. Science depends on gathering facts to prove a theory, and religion depends on making an assumption first and then interpreting all the facts in ways that support that belief.

Religion and science are two very different things, is what I'm saying. Religion does not live up to the requirements of science, and science is not required by the religious to validate their beliefs. You can't fully categorize the substance of one in terms of the other...they're like relativity and quantum physics.


RE: Fascinating Discovery
By wgbutler on 12/2/2010 6:08:40 PM , Rating: 2
I do mostly agree with you. But I also think that science could potentially be used to greatly discredit monotheistic religions by coming up with plausible naturalistic scenarios for

1) the origin of the Universe.
2) Cosmological fine tuning.
3) the origin of biological information.
4) the origin of mind.


RE: Fascinating Discovery
By morphologia on 12/2/2010 6:15:46 PM , Rating: 2
But religion doesn't have to care what science says, any more than science cares what religion says. That's my point. It's only when one ventures into the territory of the other that problems occur. Religious beliefs are poorly equipped to attain scientific validity, and scientific theories must be tested and doubted until the doubts are relieved, not worshipped and believed no matter what the facts say.


RE: Fascinating Discovery
By wgbutler on 12/2/2010 7:02:52 PM , Rating: 2
You may indeed be right that some religions demand unwavering allegiance in spite of all contrary scientific evidence to their truth claims.

Personally, I would not waste my time with such religions. Anyone who was willing to check their intellect at the door so they could believe in a fairy tale would either be an irrational person or else wouldn't really be able to invest themselves seriously in the religion.

For example, if holy scripture said, "The moon is made out of green cheese" and science proves that the moon is not in fact made out of green cheese, then anyone who follows that particular religious system is just crazy or in serious denial.

Even though science and religion are different domains and have little overlap, they can support each other in the same way that anthropology and archaeology can support each other.

For example, the Bible says that the Universe came into existence at a finite point in the past. Big Bang cosmology also says that the universe came into existence at a finite point in the past, so in this case science supports the Biblical claim.

If the Bible instead said that the Universe was hatched out of an egg of a giant turtle and we had science showing the Big Bang was true, I would instead give up my religious beliefs rather than blindly believe in the giant turtle egg theory no matter what science said.


RE: Fascinating Discovery
By FaceMaster on 12/7/2010 5:28:56 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
the Bible says that the Universe came into existence at a finite point in the past


By that you mean it said, 'on day one, God created the universe' or something equally vague?

It's the vagueness of religion that I hate. It's so vague that it can mean anything people want it to. I'm sorry, but I'm simply not clever enough to interpret Biblical quotes in such a way as to both agree with science, and at the same time to actually prove that God made it that way on purpose. It just doesn't make sense.

At least the Universe hatching out of an egg of a giant turtle is more specific. I'm sure that if they were as specific when writing the Bible then it would be equally stupid.


RE: Fascinating Discovery
By FITCamaro on 12/2/2010 7:55:08 PM , Rating: 1
Do you believe that intelligent life exists despite the fact that there is no evidence? If so why? Likely faith. Because it is implausible to believe that the human race is the only intelligent life in a immeasurably large universe.

Religion is the same way. I may not follow any particular organized religion, but I think the idea that the universe merely popped into existence is harder to believe than that there was a reason for it.


RE: Fascinating Discovery
By wordsworm on 12/2/2010 8:35:19 PM , Rating: 2
Answering that question in any way is naive at this time: we have no way of visiting every planet in the universe to discover that there is no life on them, or that there is.

I always find it funny that those who say there is no life 'out there' say so due to the lack of evidence when they, of course, have no evidence either.


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