Richard added a post

From: Richard
Sent on: Saturday, December 11, 2010 7:48 PM
At the November meeting, one of our special educational activities was the presentation of a powerpoint slide show by a Brazilian biologist I met on a business trip. It was, "The Search for Habitable Worlds in the Solar System", which had a few intro slides on the possibility of life based on chemicals other than what we are based on (carbon, with water as the solvent and energized by sunlight). It prompted a lively discussion about the possibility of life on other planets and the scientific and cultural and ethical implications of contact. Well, a week or two later, NASA announced the discovery of a bacteria on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic, which it substitutes for phosphorus (phosphorus is one of the 6 elements thought to be essential for life as we know it). How timely! How fascinating! At a future meeting, I will be presenting more slides from this biologist discussing "The Chemistry of Life as We Do Not Know It", which is more of what the NASA folks focused on. "Be there, Aloha!"

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