xkcd on Arsenic-Based Life [en]

I’ve enjoyed reading the strips at xkcd for a couple of years now. Today’s comic is a great proof of how quickly xkcd picks up current scientific (and social) topics:

As seen on xkcd.com, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.5

This of course refers to the recent Science Magazine article entitled A Bacterium That Can Grow by Using Arsenic Instead of Phosphorus (PDF). Apparently this article was revieled to the general public at some NASA press conference and accompanied with a certain degree of media hype ‒ at least for a science topic. Kudos to xkcd for commenting on this Issue just one day after it became public;-)

I haven’t read the full article yet, and the idea that such a life-form could exist does not strike me with surprise. The way our life is constructed at a bio-chemical level appears to be far too complex and peculiar to believe it could be the only possible variant there is. I guess, research will reveal even more differing and unforeseen forms of life in the future. However, this finding of Arsenic-based DNA may IMHO be the most important discovery of the year. Congratulations to the lucky finders!

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