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Arsenic-Based Life, Open to Critique

A researcher is repeating the controversial experiments that suggested a bacterium used arsenic rather than phosphorus in its DNA—with the world watching.

By | August 10, 2011

Mono Lake, where the bacteria were collectedIMAGE 2010 HENRY BORTMAN

Rosie Redfield of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver is redoing the work published last year by Felisa Wolfe-Simon at the NASA aAstrobiology Institute and colleagues on an organism that was reported to use arsenic rather than phosphorus in its DNA.

The report was widely questioned by the scientific community when it was published last year, but no scientists appeared eager to repeat the work to verify or refute it, as most thought it was a waste of time, according to Nature. Now, Redfield is attempting to repeat the studies and blogging about her progress, including her failures, in what she calls her open science research blog.

Although science is often done without much discussion among the community at large, revealing the steps and missteps of the scientific process, especially on such a high-profile and controversial study, could help engage the public and reveal a side of science that is rarely seen, Jonathan Eisen of the University of California, Davis, told Nature.  It also offers a chance for other researchers to offer their suggestions and opinions on how to improve the experiments or what to look at next, Jean-Claude Bradley at Drexel University added.

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Comments

Avatar of: Paul Stein

Anonymous

August 10, 2011

I applaud Doctor Redfield for her open, honest efforts, however the outcome.  Her blog provides an open door to how science is done, and those interested in science as a potential career would be quite wise to follow it.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 10, 2011

I applaud Doctor Redfield for her open, honest efforts, however the outcome.  Her blog provides an open door to how science is done, and those interested in science as a potential career would be quite wise to follow it.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 10, 2011

I applaud Doctor Redfield for her open, honest efforts, however the outcome.  Her blog provides an open door to how science is done, and those interested in science as a potential career would be quite wise to follow it.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 17, 2011

This could herald a new way of reporting science - although how to cite it could be a problem when it comes to talking about the results in the more formal scientific press.

But whatever, a really interesting way to tackle a very contentious issue!

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 17, 2011

This could herald a new way of reporting science - although how to cite it could be a problem when it comes to talking about the results in the more formal scientific press.

But whatever, a really interesting way to tackle a very contentious issue!

Avatar of: Ed Rybicki

Ed Rybicki

Posts: 82

August 17, 2011

This could herald a new way of reporting science - although how to cite it could be a problem when it comes to talking about the results in the more formal scientific press.

But whatever, a really interesting way to tackle a very contentious issue!

Avatar of: Mac

Mac

Posts: 1457

August 31, 2011

Information flow in the internet age uses Google searches, but Google searches in the scientific realm often lead to dead ends for the general public and non-university associated scientists when the main source of the information has a price tag of $30 or more associated with it. The solution to this information bottleneck is what Dr. Redfield has found here. Not only is the information freely distributed but the ability to allow commenting and correcting on a real-time basis makes this a preferable method of exchanging information. All that needs to be modernized is the way that scientific contributions are measured for career-development purposes. The time has come, and everyone benefits from the free flow of information. 

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 31, 2011

Information flow in the internet age uses Google searches, but Google searches in the scientific realm often lead to dead ends for the general public and non-university associated scientists when the main source of the information has a price tag of $30 or more associated with it. The solution to this information bottleneck is what Dr. Redfield has found here. Not only is the information freely distributed but the ability to allow commenting and correcting on a real-time basis makes this a preferable method of exchanging information. All that needs to be modernized is the way that scientific contributions are measured for career-development purposes. The time has come, and everyone benefits from the free flow of information. 

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

August 31, 2011

Information flow in the internet age uses Google searches, but Google searches in the scientific realm often lead to dead ends for the general public and non-university associated scientists when the main source of the information has a price tag of $30 or more associated with it. The solution to this information bottleneck is what Dr. Redfield has found here. Not only is the information freely distributed but the ability to allow commenting and correcting on a real-time basis makes this a preferable method of exchanging information. All that needs to be modernized is the way that scientific contributions are measured for career-development purposes. The time has come, and everyone benefits from the free flow of information. 

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