NASA’s arsenic biology discovery slammed

For many reasons, mostly political but partly ethical, I do not use Google, Facebook, Twitter. They practice corrupt business policies, while targeting conservative websites for censoring, facts repeatedly confirmed by news stories and by my sense that Facebook has taken action to prevent my readers from recommending Behind the Black to their friends.
Thus, I must have your direct support to keep this webpage alive. Not only does the money pay the bills, it gives me the freedom to speak honestly about science and culture, instead of being forced to write it as others demand.


Please consider donating by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:

If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


You can also support me by buying one of my books, as noted in the boxes interspersed throughout the webpage. And if you buy the books through the ebookit links, I get a larger cut and I get it sooner.

The uncertainty of science! A microbiologist is slamming last week’s NASA discovery that claimed a microbe had incorporated arsenic instead of phosphorus as part of its DNA. Key quote:

In an interview Monday, Redfield said the methods used by the researchers were so crude that any arsenic they detected was likely from contamination. There is no indication that the researchers purified the DNA to remove arsenic that might have been sticking to the outside of the DNA or the gel the DNA was embedded in, she added. Normally, purifying the DNA is a standard step, Redfield said: “It’s a kit, it costs $2, it takes 10 minutes.” She also questioned why the researchers analyzed the DNA while it was still in the gel, making the results more difficult to interpret: “No molecular biologist would ever do that.”



  • It’s amazing that everyone wants to be an armchair quarterback and no-one seems to be actually *publishing*.. except Wolfe-Simon and her team that is.

  • Chris L.

    While I agree that it is way too early to be making pronouncements either way on this find, it is the nature of science that Wolfe-Simon’s work be critically examined. If her work holds up, those critics will be choking on their own words. If her work doesn’t, another explanation for what she observed will have to be found, and tested.

  • It’s the nature of the work that it be critically examined *by people actually doing experiments*.. and publishing their work in a reputable journal. Armchair bloggers can go spin. When good science can be buried by “hype”, “anti-hype” and vitriol then we’ve truly entered a new dark age.

  • Chris L.

    Point well taken. As I said, it really is too soon for anyone to be passing judgment on this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *