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The Scientist: 2011’s top science scandals feature arsenic-based life

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In “Top Science Scandals of 2011” (The Scientist, December 19, 2011), Tia Ghose reports on last year’s “most high-profile retractions and controversies in science”: Hat tipping Diedrik Stapel and Marc Hauser, she also acknowledges arsenic-based life:

In late 2010, NASA researcher Felisa Wolfe-Simon and colleagues reportedly uncovered a species of bacteria in Mono Lake that not only survived in unusually high levels of arsenic and low levels of phosphorus, but also appeared to incorporate arsenic into its DNA backbone. However, critics were soon questioning the results, citing poor DNA extraction techniques and a supposedly phosphate-free growth medium which actually did contain phosphate. Science published 8 technical comments about the work in May, though the paper, which has been cited 26 times, has yet to be retracted.

And how could such a report be complete without the annual true Colleague from Hill story?:

In May, the Office of Research Integrity announced its finding that postdoc Vipul Bhrigu is guilty of misconduct. Grad student Heather Ames thought she was going crazy when her experimental results kept messing up. But after conducting experiments in her boyfriends’ lab and getting solid results, she suspected foul play. Sure enough, her colleague Brighu was caught on tape sabotaging her samples. In July 2010 he pled guilty to malicious destruction of property and received 6 months of probation and a $10,000 fine.

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