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Watercooler – And Now For Something Different

photo: onkel_wart via Flickr

And now for something very, very different  from our usual political wonkery — like the possibility that “alien” life forms have been found.  NASA has embargoed materials related to a scheduled press conference tomorrow, to be held at 2:00 p.m. EST in Washington, DC. Here’s the available details from NASA’s press release:

WASHINGTON — NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.

The news conference will be held at the NASA Headquarters auditorium at 300 E St. SW, in Washington. It will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed on the agency’s website at

Participants are:
– Mary Voytek, director, Astrobiology Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington
– Felisa Wolfe-Simon, NASA astrobiology research fellow, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, Calif.
– Pamela Conrad, astrobiologist, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
– Steven Benner, distinguished fellow, Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, Gainesville, Fla.
– James Elser, professor, Arizona State University, Tempe

There’s been a lot of speculation about the nature of the announcement so far; at least one site has speculated that scientists have found life-supporting conditions in the neighborhood of Saturn, perhaps on its moon Titan. But Alex Madrigal of The Atlantic has apparently read the embargoed material from NASA and squelched the speculation.

Putting all the pieces together — from the spread of scientific experts participating in the press conference, to the rebuttal of speculation — chances are very good we’ll hear scientists have found a different chemistry than what we are most familiar with might support life. Arsenic in particular has been mentioned by a number of outlets as a possible alternative to the phosphorus most Earth life uses.

Perhaps NASA’s Astrobiology Program will announce Thursday that it’s found alien life, arsenic-based — and they’ve found it right here on Earth?

What’s your guess? And what else is on your mind tonight?

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Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, FDL community member since 2005, geek since birth.

Fan of science and technology, wannabe artist, decent cook, successful troublemaker and purveyor of challenging memetics whose genetics may be only nominally better.

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