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Earth Science

Lake Vostok Found Teeming With Life 62

jpyeck writes "Lake Vostok, Antarctica's biggest and deepest subsurface lake, might contain thousands of different kinds of tiny organisms — and perhaps bigger fish as well, researchers report. The lake, buried under more than 2 miles (3.7 kilometers) of Antarctic ice, has been seen as an earthly analog for ice-covered seas on such worlds as Europa and Enceladus. It's thought to have been cut off from the outside world for as long as 15 million years. But the latest results, reported in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, suggest that the lake isn't as sterile or otherworldly as some scientists might have thought. More than 3,500 different DNA sequences were identified in samples extracted from layers of ice that have built up just above the surface of the lake."
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Lake Vostok Found Teeming With Life

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 08, 2013 @08:25AM (#44214823)

    Because if they correspond to already known species, then it's just contamination.

  • "More than" (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pentadecagon ( 1926186 ) on Monday July 08, 2013 @10:07AM (#44215429)
    Could we please stop saying "more than" in scientific contexts, except when needed? This phrase is intended to denote situations where we just know a lower boundary of the correct value, but in recent time it's being (ab-)used mostly for a dramatic effect. I really wish people would either give precise figures, or when this is not practical, use the words invented to mark numbers as approximations, like "roughly" or "about". Statistically speaking, the difference is that "roughly" implies an effort to find a "simple" number close to the correct expectation value, but "more than" implies we picked just some number that's surely below the confidence interval.
  • by radtea ( 464814 ) on Monday July 08, 2013 @04:01PM (#44218653)

    I've read TFA, and thanks for adding some clarity, but I still have to wonder when they'll sequence the DNA.

    Apparently you neither read the TFA nor the reply to your original false assertion that they didn't sequence the DNA.

    Nor does your claim "if it's just an already known species then it's just contamination" make any sense.

    I was on a remote island recently. I picked up an odd feather on the beach. I brought it back home and used it to identify the bird it came from. It was a known species.

    There is absolutely no basis in that observation to support the claim that my backpack had somehow become contaminated by feathers from that species, and DNA is no different from feathers in this regard, when subject to ordinary standards of careful handling for such samples, which were obviously applied in this case (that is: the people doing the research are not and should not be presumed to be complete idiots.)

    So you're completely wrong about all that, but have a nice day anyway!

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: A giant panda bear is really a member of the racoon family.