Scientists working with NASA made an announcement today that may put to rest a flood of Internet rumors that followed the organization’s announcement Wednesday that it would be unveiling an “astrobiology finding," InformationWeek reports.
The discovery may not have been as dramatic as finding a real-life “ALF,” as had been rumored, but it is not insignificant in its own right. The scientists revealed that they had trained a bacterium–scraped from the bottom of California’s Mono Lake–to live on a diet that replaces one of the basic building blocks thought necessary for life, phosphorus, with arsenic — a development that opens the door considerably wider to the possibilityone of the bais that organisms may exist in places other than Planet Earth.
The results of the experiment, say the scientists, could expand on ideas about what life can be and where it can survive.
The story quotes Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a NASA astrobiology fellow at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif., who led the experiment, saying, "[It grew and thrived. Nothing should have grown."
She added, "We’ve cracked open the door for what’s possible with life elsewhere in the universe. What else might we find? What else might we want to look for?"