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Submission + - Is methane-based life the next big thing?

Randym writes: With the simultaneous announcement of a possible nitrogen-based cell-like structure allowing life outside the "liquid water zone" (but within a methane atmosphere) announced by researchers at Cornell and the mystery of *fluctuating* methane levels on Mars raising the possibility of methane-respiring life, there now exists the possibility of a whole new branch of the tree of life that does not rely on either carbon *or* oxygen respiration. We may find evidence of such life here on Earth down in the mantle where "traditional" life cannot survive, but where bacteria has evolved to live off hydrocarbons like methane and benzene.

Comment Re:Great Satan (Score 3, Insightful) 510 510

' "New terrorists are emerging, new groups, actually, a new level of viciousness," Feinstein said.'

Ah, yes -- that small vicious group that call themselves "The Congress". Vile bastards, those... Claiming to 'represent the people', yet imposing insult after insult upon the very people they claim to represent.

Comment Sign the anti-censorship petition at change.org (Score 2) 548 548

Sign the anti-censorship petition at change.org. Currently it is accumulating signatures at the rate of 1 signature every four seconds. Today, Fifty Shades of Grey (virgin enslaved by a billionaire); tomorrow, Ender's Game (children enslaved by the military).

Comment Re:Facts please. (Score 1) 548 548

You are incorrect. That particular smutpocolypse already happened in 2010. What they are going after now is things which are perfectly legal which seem "bad" -- and it's all being driven by some right-wing rag in Great Britain (you know, land of the page 3 girls...). If you are getting your news from the BBC, you are already a little late to the story.

Comment Unlikely metabolism... (Score 1) 79 79

'This organism has had to figure out everything on its own,' says Amend, 'it splits water into hydrogen and oxygen for metabolism.'

It's hard to believe that geochemist Dr. Amend said that about Desulforudis Audaxviator, since D. Audaxviator is completely intolerant of oxygen, and its sulfate reduction mechanism is right there in its name!

If anyone had bothered to follow the links in that discovery.com article, they would have found this useful article that quotes the original discoverers of Desulforudis Audaxviator: "Tullis Onstott classified the microbe under the genus Desulforudis for its ability to get energy from sulfate and its rod shape... Living deep underground for such a long time has also stripped D. audaxviator of the ability to use oxygen as an electron acceptor in its metabolic pathways, thus making it a strict anaerobe. Instead of oxygen, sulfate is used as an electron acceptor...These [2157] genes allow the microbe to live in almost all conditions except in the presence of oxygen." (my emphasis)

Comment Life IN Mars (yet again) (Score 1) 79 79

Here is my second comment entitled "Life IN Mars"; my original comment on this was so long ago that it has vanished. Let me merely add that eventually we will find life inside almost every extra-terrestrial planet-sized-or-larger object (assuming we get there), with the probable exemption of solar objects.

Comment Hubs and authorities (Score 1) 248 248

So again, scientists know this is a problem. They just don't know how to stop it.

Hey, I have this really cool idea. I call it Hubs and Authorities ; the idea is that there is peer review and the best-reviewed journals are considered the best journals to send your paper to! Whaddya think?

Comment There's a better way... (Score 1) 348 348

'"It's Big Brother, sort of, but with a good intent,"

...it's called grading the students on what they have learned. And I can't believe such an inane comment came from a dean. Of course, it is Texas, land of the dumbed-down and incorrect textbooks, so maybe we shouldn't be that surprised....

Comment Re:The real problem (Score 1) 506 506

Groen Links (Green Left) was decimated in Holland when it became clear the party had lost all touch with reality in supporting several right wing measures, forgettin they were supposed to be a LEFT wing party.

Not according to German Green Party founder Petra Kelly, who famously said "Not Left or Right, but straight ahead!" ("Nicht links oder recht, aber gerade aus!")

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