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NASA Science

War Over Arsenic Based Life 155

Antipater writes "Slashdot readers may remember the announcement and ensuing controversy six months ago over the NASA discovery of microbes that can supposedly incorporate arsenic into their DNA. Now, The Washington Post reports that Science has published a collection of eight scathing critiques of astrobiologist Felisa Wolfe-Simon, her methods, and her conclusions. Wolfe-Simon is starting to fire back and gather her own allies — one wonders if we're in for another cold-fusion style science war."
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War Over Arsenic Based Life

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  • Re:Scientific Method (Score:5, Informative)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @06:05PM (#36268092) Journal

    Multiple teams have confirmed global warming. What are you talking about?

  • Re:Scientific Method (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 27, 2011 @06:08PM (#36268132)

    From the Washington Post article:

    "Further, Wolfe-Simon has provided samples of the supposedly arsenic-loving microbes to “four or five” independent scientists, she said, who are now trying to prove her wrong — or maybe just show that she was right."

    This looks to me the scientist is giving out samples of the said bacteria to other scientists to try reproducing the findings.

  • Re:Scientific Method (Score:4, Informative)

    by empiricistrob ( 638862 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @06:37PM (#36268384)
    I'm so tired of people saying this -- if you can't replicate an experiment with the same starting conditions then it's not science -- that it total and complete bullshit.

    Science works like this:
    Step 1. Formulate a hypothesis.
    Step 2. Test the hypothesis.
    Step 3.
    If hypothesis checks out, repeat step 2. After sufficient iterations call it a theory.
    If hypothesis doesn't check out, throw it out and formulate a new hypothesis.

    *no where* in the above does it require you to have the same starting conditions. In the case of global warming the hypotheses are of the form "Higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere will lead to higher temperatures". There are *many* ways you can test these hypotheses -- you don't need to have a model earth to play with.
  • Re:Scientific Method (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mindcontrolled ( 1388007 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @06:38PM (#36268390)
    Nice way of showing that you didn't remotely follow the science there. Protip: Watts is not part of it. There are multiple data sets, multiple models, a strong, controversial discussion about the building of said models - and still, a consensus on the basic facts, because they are bloody obvious by now. If you think reproducibility means "taking two different earths", you don't have the slightest grasp about what science actually is. This is actually so exceedingly dumb that i fail to grasp how someone can come up with that argument.

The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.