File a UFO Report |
View UFO Reports
Director UFOwisconsin Noah Voss
NEW: Scientists have discovered a form of bacteria that can thrive largely on arsenic
NEW: Arsenic is an element generally considered to be toxic
NEW: The bacterium was scooped from sediment in California's Mono Lake
Washington (CNN) -- Scientists have discovered a form of bacteria that can thrive largely on arsenic -- an element generally considered toxic -- dramatically expanding both traditional notions of how life is sustained and the range of where it might be found in the universe, NASA funded-researchers announced Thursday.
"Life as we know it requires particular chemical elements and excludes others," Arizona State University researcher Ariel Anbar said in a news release. "But are those the only options? How different could life be?"
The bacterium -- strain GFAJ-1 of the Halomonadaceae family of Gammaproteobacteria -- was scooped from sediment in California's Mono Lake, an area rife with naturally high levels of arsenic, it said.
Scientists were able to grow the microbes from the lake using only small portions of phosphorous -- considered an essential nutrient in the biomolecules of a naturally occurring bacterium.
Internet speculation had reached a fever pitch Thursday ahead of a NASA news conference, which the agency said would "discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life."
"Our guess is that this astrobiological discovery will have something to do with water, evolutionary biology and aquatic bacteria," said the Geek Tech bloggers at PCWorld.
Others were more tongue-in-cheek. "There's only one thing this could mean: NASA has aliens," wrote Stephen Losey on FederalTimes.com. "Now let's just hope they're the friendly, E.T.-kind of visitors, and not the warlike Klingon types."
Speculation was rampant on social networks as well. "Can only mean one thing," one Twitter user posted. "The Martians are coming." One person wrote on the Huffington Post, "we've got enough ... alien lifeforms in Washington."
CNN's Jim Kavanagh contributed to this report.