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Exploring why NASA needed to believe in the arsenic-eating bacteria

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The Portuguese language blog, Pos-Darwinista, sends us some further English-language links concerning the recent story about two separate papers saying that NASA’s claim re bacteria that can eat arsenic is false:

Here’s Rosie Redfield on NASA’s ”cowardly responses.“ Also, “Arsenic bacteria”: Coffin, meet nails, and also Arsenic Death.

The Pos-Darwinista asks the post-Darwinist (UD News),

Are these responses due to the fact that their cherished idea – from goo to you – was denied in the theoretical context of justification? They deconsider the evidence in favor of the theory?

Maybe … but, there is another way of looking at it, Pos-Darwinista.

NASA would like to find extraterrestrial life. Of course they would. Now, to go about the search in an organized manner, we need to make a decision up front: Do we think that life must use certain known chemical paths, or do we believe that life can somehow come into existence using a wide variety of such paths?

If we believe the former, we concentrate our search on environments that feature the one group of chemicals that we know are associated with life.

Of course it could turn out that a universe consisting entirely of boron and helium could produce a life-like entity. Strange things do happen. But most of us cannot spend our lives pursuing strange things. … If we accept the known-chemical-paths approach, we really want to know whether there are environments out there that are like ours and therefore can produce life that we could recognize as such. So that narrows our search, but also focuses it.

The other idea, that life could take root in a wide variety of ways (arsenic-based life, for example), is doubtless attractive to NASA because it broadens the search space considerably – but also unfocuses it somewhat.

Anyway, it looks like arsenic-based life didn’t really work out.

One senses NASA will end up having to choose. Looking for known conditions for life would seem to make more sense just now, but the floor is open.

Honestly. Just because we mentioned extraterrestrial life, this idiot, pictured below, insisted on barging in (where IS the concierge when you need her?):

green space alien

Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista

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