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Fritz the Horse
Dec 26, 2019



Hmm seems we could use a thread for science nerdery.

I'm astrobiology-adjacent. Felisa Wolfe-Simon was gonna ask me to post-doc under her which seemed cool until she way overhyped data and made national news for "discovering" arsenic-based DNA. Turns out that was wrong, whoops.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felisa_Wolfe-Simon


Anyway this is the space place for talking about silicon-based life, the Panspermia hypothesis, nucleosynthesis, whatever!

Fritz the Horse fucked around with this message at 02:40 on Feb 23, 2021

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Potato Salad
Oct 23, 2014

Nobody Cares




> no physics nerds aloud

BITCH YOU NEED US

Lawman 0
Aug 17, 2010





I'm gonna take a wild leap here and suggest that one of the outer icy moons has non-traditional forms of life.

Fritz the Horse
Dec 26, 2019



Lawman 0 posted:

I'm gonna take a wild leap here and suggest that one of the outer icy moons has non-traditional forms of life.

Would be very cool and imo not super surprising. Life kicked off pretty early on Earth, I don't see why you wouldn't reasonably expect to see something pop up with liquid water and an energy source.

An interesting thing about the icy moons is you wouldn't get photosynthesis. Evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis radically altered Earth's geochemistry.

I dunno if I would expect complex multicellular life, but something

Lawman 0
Aug 17, 2010





Fritz the Horse posted:

Would be very cool and imo not super surprising. Life kicked off pretty early on Earth, I don't see why you wouldn't reasonably expect to see something pop up with liquid water and an energy source.

An interesting thing about the icy moons is you wouldn't get photosynthesis. Evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis radically altered Earth's geochemistry.

I dunno if I would expect complex multicellular life, but something

I remember reading that algae would still be able to do photosynthesis around Jupiter (presumably on cracks in Europa's ice shell) which is pretty neat.

Phanatic
Mar 13, 2007

Please don't forget that I am an extremely racist idiot who also has terrible opinions about the Culture series.


Fritz the Horse posted:

Hmm seems we could use a thread for science nerdery.

I'm astrobiology-adjacent. Felisa Wolfe-Simon was gonna ask me to post-doc under her which seemed cool until she fudged some data and made national news for "discovering" arsenic-based DNA.

She fudged the data? I hadn't heard that, do you have more?

I mean, I know that it failed to replicate, nobody else has managed to find any arsenic in the DNA, and that nobody else has managed to get bacteria to use arsenate instead of phosphate (or even in addition to), and that her work was just wrong. But she actually manipulated data?

Fritz the Horse
Dec 26, 2019



Lawman 0 posted:

I remember reading that algae would still be able to do photosynthesis around Jupiter (presumably on cracks in Europa's ice shell) which is pretty neat.

I am super not up on reading space stuff, I should start. I am very familiar with algae on Earth tho.

I'm sure someone's crunched the numbers on solar radiation intensity at Europa's surface, the question is would it be competitive with chemosynthesis?

Nature abhors a vacuum etc etc. You can find something living in every weird-rear end niche imaginable on Earth so I'm sure if there's a little bit of sunlight we'd find some photosynthesis.

Or if not photosynthesis, photoheterotrophs of some sort. Those are abundant in Earth's open oceans.

Phanatic
Mar 13, 2007

Please don't forget that I am an extremely racist idiot who also has terrible opinions about the Culture series.


Fritz the Horse posted:

I am super not up on reading space stuff, I should start. I am very familiar with algae on Earth tho.

I'm sure someone's crunched the numbers on solar radiation intensity at Europa's surface, the question is would it be competitive with chemosynthesis?

Oof, it's like 3.2% of that at Earth orbit, so about 50 watts per square meter. And the maximum theoretical efficiency of chlorophyll is something like 30%? I'm not sure what kind of energy gradient the bacteria and archae that live at undersea hydrothermal vents can exploit, but given that Europa's probably seismically active as hell I'd put my money on any life on Europe being well under the surface.

Fritz the Horse
Dec 26, 2019



Phanatic posted:

She fudged the data? I hadn't heard that, do you have more?

I mean, I know that it failed to replicate, nobody else has managed to find any arsenic in the DNA, and that nobody else has managed to get bacteria to use arsenate instead of phosphate (or even in addition to), and that her work was just wrong. But she actually manipulated data?

Nah I have no evidence and haven't heard any rumors that she actually fabricated or manipulated and knowing her somewhat that is not something she would do. So I retract that, it was a flippant comment on something more than a decade ago I honestly didn't remember all that well.

I was at a Gordon conference a few months before her paper got published and the ensuing shitstorm, she presented some of the arsenate-DNA data at the conference and we had a great chat. I was working on some vanadium/vanadate stuff at the time (another phosphate/arsenate analogue).

She became a pariah pretty quickly which is unfortunate. It was a perfect storm of pressure on her to produce positive results, she really wanted to launch her career, and the paper was insanely overhyped by NASA and news media. It destroyed her career and it's not right of me to off-handedly quip about fudging when I certainly don't mean to suggest she faked data.

What she did was (under intense media, career, etc pressure) greatly exaggerate how much her data supported the conclusions that she'd discovered bacteria that could incorporate arsenate instead of phosphate into their DNA.


I'll edit my OP

Fritz the Horse fucked around with this message at 02:42 on Feb 23, 2021

Phanatic
Mar 13, 2007

Please don't forget that I am an extremely racist idiot who also has terrible opinions about the Culture series.


Fritz the Horse posted:

What she did was (under intense media, career, etc pressure) greatly exaggerate how much her data supported the conclusions that she'd discovered bacteria that could incorporate arsenate instead of phosphate into their DNA.

Ugh, that's such a lovely position for someone to be in. NASA coming out and trumpeting it to hell and gone sure couldn't have helped.

mediaphage
Mar 22, 2007

Excuse me, pardon me, sheer perfection coming through


Phanatic posted:

Oof, it's like 3.2% of that at Earth orbit, so about 50 watts per square meter. And the maximum theoretical efficiency of chlorophyll is something like 30%? I'm not sure what kind of energy gradient the bacteria and archae that live at undersea hydrothermal vents can exploit, but given that Europa's probably seismically active as hell I'd put my money on any life on Europe being well under the surface.

not to mention the fact that it's constantly bathed in high energy radiation; things on the surface get about 5.4 Sv a day

Fritz the Horse
Dec 26, 2019



She was a fresh PhD graduate too, maybe even still post-docing? I mean, she named the bug GFAJ-1 (Give Felisa A Job).

To be fair it was also a failure of the peer review process. The whole thing was insanely overhyped at every level. She's significantly to blame but I mean, NASA was absolutely reckless in how they ran with the announcement.

Lawman 0
Aug 17, 2010





I mean all you can hope for I guess is that they learned a lesson from that.

Phanatic
Mar 13, 2007

Please don't forget that I am an extremely racist idiot who also has terrible opinions about the Culture series.


Narrator: they didn't.

mediaphage posted:

not to mention the fact that it's constantly bathed in high energy radiation; things on the surface get about 5.4 Sv a day

On one hand, that makes things harder. On the other hand, a higher mutation rate makes evolution faster. On the gripping hand, there are life forms on Earth that could probably handle it (there's at least one bacteria that you could hit with 5000 Sv and it will just sit there and grow at you), so very possibly something could evolve under such conditions.

Phanatic fucked around with this message at 02:56 on Feb 23, 2021

mycomancy
Oct 16, 2016

Not keeping silent about crimes committed by the government of China is racist!

Wolfe-Simon should retract her paper then. She found a bug that can tolerate high arsenic levels, likely by some interesting sequestering methods (disclaimer: I'm not up on this and am remembering poo poo I read ten years ago). She's as much to blame as anyone, she wrote about hypothetical arsenic-containing nucleic acids then claimed she found some, which is some serious confirmation bias. No one put a gun to her head to force her to blather unsupported nonsense. Her careerism also was evident from the Give Felisa A Job bollocks, I too was a starving stressed out grad student and post doc but I never named anything Mycomancy Gets A Grant then spun horseshit about it.

So look, yes, multiple people hosed up in multiple ways, but Wolfe-Simon most certainly holds a fair share of the blame.

Fritz the Horse
Dec 26, 2019



Yeah I'd agree it should be retracted and NASA should apologize if they haven't already.

Also it wasn't intentional but I realize now that namedropping Wolfe-Simon and the arsenic bacteria fiasco is probably a good honeypot to kick off the thread haha. It's something most posters with an interest in space and of typical goon age would remember pretty vividly.

mycomancy
Oct 16, 2016

Not keeping silent about crimes committed by the government of China is racist!

Fritz the Horse posted:

Yeah I'd agree it should be retracted and NASA should apologize if they haven't already.

Also it wasn't intentional but I realize now that namedropping Wolfe-Simon and the arsenic bacteria fiasco is probably a good honeypot to kick off the thread haha. It's something most posters with an interest in space and of typical goon age would remember pretty vividly.

It's definitely a sore spot for me. I can't seem to get a grant or an interview anywhere to move my career up even though everything I've worked on has been totally solid, well-done, and well received, but because I'm a trash person from the lower classes who went to state schools I don't have the pedigree to hang out, while she just loving pissed it away by slinging bullshit into Nature. loving shameful.

I'm also discussing this paper with my Senior sem students on Thursday lol

Fritz the Horse
Dec 26, 2019



sounds like u should be studying hypersaline environments



Yeah she came from a royal dynasty of academia. The pedigree snobbery is pretty bullshit indeed.

She holds a lot of blame but if NASA and the Nature reviewers were doing their jobs it would never have been published or had such insane media buzz. She's paying the price though


edit: oh and related, shadow biosphere stuff is interesting but edges on pseudoscience quackery a lot imo

mycomancy
Oct 16, 2016

Not keeping silent about crimes committed by the government of China is racist!

Fritz the Horse posted:

sounds like u should be studying hypersaline environments

Lol no thanks, I'll stick to my crazy-rear end synbio nonsense.

I would 100% ditch Terran biology to work on exobiology if we ever discovered any though.

Phanatic
Mar 13, 2007

Please don't forget that I am an extremely racist idiot who also has terrible opinions about the Culture series.


I still think it's reasonably likely that there's some on Mars. Although it might just be Terran biology anyway.

mycomancy
Oct 16, 2016

Not keeping silent about crimes committed by the government of China is racist!

Phanatic posted:

I still think it's reasonably likely that there's some on Mars. Although it might just be Terran biology anyway.

Something on Mars would almost be certainly Terran in origin, the two planets swap more material than teenagers in a parked car.

If there is a second genesis event in Sol system, it'll be under the ice sheet of Europa or some hosed up exotic chem microbes on Titan.

Fritz the Horse
Dec 26, 2019



mycomancy posted:

Lol no thanks, I'll stick to my crazy-rear end synbio nonsense.

I would 100% ditch Terran biology to work on exobiology if we ever discovered any though.



it was a joke about you being salty about Wolfe-Simon and also she isolated GFAJ-1 from the very cool very hypersaline Mono Lake


Phanatic posted:

I still think it's reasonably likely that there's some on Mars. Although it might just be Terran biology anyway.

yeah wouldn't surprise me, and there is logically a good chance that Terran and Martian biology would be the same since they'd have been fairly similar environments when Mars was still alive and regularly do the planetary equivalent of exchanging body fluids

edit:

mycomancy posted:

Something on Mars would almost be certainly Terran in origin, the two planets swap more material than teenagers in a parked car.


lol efb to body fluid jokes

Lawman 0
Aug 17, 2010





mycomancy posted:

Something on Mars would almost be certainly Terran in origin, the two planets swap more material than teenagers in a parked car.

If there is a second genesis event in Sol system, it'll be under the ice sheet of Europa or some hosed up exotic chem microbes on Titan.

Titan owns because there are like 3 ways life could form on it depending on what interior model you use.

mycomancy
Oct 16, 2016

Not keeping silent about crimes committed by the government of China is racist!

Fritz the Horse posted:

edit:
lol efb to body fluid jokes

Gotem

mycomancy
Oct 16, 2016

Not keeping silent about crimes committed by the government of China is racist!

Lawman 0 posted:

Titan owns because there are like 3 ways life could form on it depending on what interior model you use.

Can you elaborate? You've piqued my interest.

mediaphage
Mar 22, 2007

Excuse me, pardon me, sheer perfection coming through


mycomancy posted:

Something on Mars would almost be certainly Terran in origin, the two planets swap more material than teenagers in a parked car.

If there is a second genesis event in Sol system, it'll be under the ice sheet of Europa or some hosed up exotic chem microbes on Titan.

im holding out hope that were all martian actually tyvm

yes more than one of my profs was a panspermian how did you know

Fritz the Horse
Dec 26, 2019



mediaphage posted:

im holding out hope that were all martian actually tyvm

yes more than one of my profs was a panspermian how did you know

if you think about panspermia very much you gotta be wondering what's up with venus like did it have life too at some point?


mycomancy posted:

Can you elaborate? You've piqued my interest.

ditto!

Lawman 0
Aug 17, 2010





mycomancy posted:

Can you elaborate? You've piqued my interest.

Iirc there is a suggestion that you could possibly have life on the surface in the methane lakes. Or that there are critters in a global subsurface ocean either made up of water or water-ammonia mixture. I'll see if I can find an article tommorow.

mediaphage
Mar 22, 2007

Excuse me, pardon me, sheer perfection coming through


Fritz the Horse posted:

if you think about panspermia very much you gotta be wondering what's up with venus like did it have life too at some point?


ditto!

you have no idea how often i think about this actually

i mean it was habitable probably for SO LONG

i still am desperately hoping for more closeup testing in the near to mid future. obviously finding interconnected life elsewhere in the solar system would be a coup. but finding a complete separate rise is unthinkable.

ExecuDork
Feb 25, 2007

We might be fucked, sir.

Fallen Rib

re: Titan Life - Stephen Baxter wrote a book that prominently features life on Titan - indigenous to Titan as well as brought from Earth - and is also simultaneously the most pessimistic and the most optimistic book I've ever read, cleverly named "Titan".

The book is horribly pessimistic for the first 550of its 581 pages, then it suddenly does this emotional 180 and is just this Best Possible Outcome Bar None all over those last 30 pages. At least, to me. Maybe I was just in a weird headspace when I read it, because:

mycomancy posted:

It's definitely a sore spot for me.
Some of what you say is exactly what I would say. Not the details, but yeah, academia is a gently caress, most of the time.

But I don't want to continue to talk about scientific fuckups, I'd like to hear more about the possibilities for life on Titan, Mars, Venus, Europa... there must be others.

Fritz the Horse
Dec 26, 2019



oh also physics is welcome here I'm sure, it's just the scientific field I'm personally weakest in

I'm a biogeochemist and oceanographer by training and for some reason most of the ocean physics research is at Scripps and they don't hang out or collaborate with anyone else

(it's because of the huge Navy base in San Diego and the Office of Naval Research funds a ton of physical oceanography research so they have different funding than everyone else who gets it from NSF, NOAA, NASA. I also assume a lot of ONR funded projects are varying degrees of classified)

Remulak
Jun 8, 2001

The four most over-rated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics. Oh, and that stupid children's book 'The Little Prince,' ugh.


Yams Fan

mycomancy posted:

It's definitely a sore spot for me. I can't seem to get a grant or an interview anywhere to move my career up even though everything I've worked on has been totally solid, well-done, and well received, but because I'm a trash person from the lower classes who went to state schools I don't have the pedigree to hang out, while she just loving pissed it away by slinging bullshit into Nature.

EasilyConfused
Nov 21, 2009


ExecuDork posted:

re: Titan Life - Stephen Baxter wrote a book that prominently features life on Titan - indigenous to Titan as well as brought from Earth - and is also simultaneously the most pessimistic and the most optimistic book I've ever read, cleverly named "Titan".

The book is horribly pessimistic for the first 550of its 581 pages, then it suddenly does this emotional 180 and is just this Best Possible Outcome Bar None all over those last 30 pages. At least, to me. Maybe I was just in a weird headspace when I read it, because:

Some of what you say is exactly what I would say. Not the details, but yeah, academia is a gently caress, most of the time.

But I don't want to continue to talk about scientific fuckups, I'd like to hear more about the possibilities for life on Titan, Mars, Venus, Europa... there must be others.

It's been a long time since I read Titan, but I don't think the best possible outcome was the destruction of civilization.

Mr. Peepers
Mar 11, 2005

Well, I'm a ghost. I scare people. It's all very important, I assure you.




I'm captivated by Enceladus. Tidal heating causes underground liquid water oceans to spew volcanoes of water and organic molecules into the rings of Saturn. We would be able to search for signs of complex organic chemistry in the escaping gasses without risking contaminating the source.

Mooey Cow
Jan 27, 2018



Pillbug

Ammonia based aliens would probably really like our piss. It would be like sweet wine to them. Makes you think.

Salt Fish
Sep 11, 2003



Cybernetic Crumb

Mooey Cow posted:

Ammonia based aliens would probably really like our piss. It would be like sweet wine to them. Makes you think.

Alien: I'll bet humans would love being beaned in the head by chunks of coal

Sojenus
Dec 28, 2008





Hah, I totally forgot about the Wolfe-Simon stuff, brings back a sudden flash of memories since that came out right as I was in grad school working in a nucleic acid lab. I remember a solid week of everyone incredulously making GBS threads on it and NASA/Nature before we just kind of memory holed it.

Even if I'm not in the field anymore I've still got a soft spot for it all.

edit: oh no i went to look up the paper again out of curiosity and it was Science, not Nature, my shame is incalculable

Sojenus fucked around with this message at 21:44 on Feb 23, 2021

mycomancy
Oct 16, 2016

Not keeping silent about crimes committed by the government of China is racist!

Mooey Cow posted:

Ammonia based aliens would probably really like our piss. It would be like sweet wine to them. Makes you think.

No. We urinate urea, which would be the same as you drinking diethylamine.

Don't drink diethylamine, btw.

mycomancy
Oct 16, 2016

Not keeping silent about crimes committed by the government of China is racist!

Sojenus posted:

Hah, I totally forgot about the Wolfe-Simon stuff, brings back a sudden flash of memories since that came out right as I was in grad school working in a nucleic acid lab. I remember a solid week of everyone incredulously making GBS threads on it and NASA/Nature before we just kind of memory holed it.

Even if I'm not in the field anymore I've still got a soft spot for it all.

It was definitely the topic of the week for that week in December. I remember drinking beer and grousing about it with friends.

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Mooey Cow
Jan 27, 2018



Pillbug

mycomancy posted:

No. We urinate urea, which would be the same as you drinking diethylamine.

Don't drink diethylamine, btw.

You're not the boss of me.

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