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DNA breakthrough hints at exotic alien life


Posted on Saturday, 23 February, 2019 | Comment icon 35 comments

What could life on other worlds be like ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 Gabygaiffe
Scientists have synthesized a molecular system that hints at a possible alternative to DNA-based life.
The NASA-funded research aimed to explore the theoretical foundations of life on other worlds by developing alternative ways to store and transmit genetic information.

Lead by Steven Benner at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Alachua, Florida, the team succeeded in fabricating a DNA alternative with eight nucleotides instead of four.

The researchers named their creation "hachimoji", which is Japanese for "eight letter".
"By carefully analyzing the roles of shape, size and structure in hachimoji DNA, this work expands our understanding of the types of molecules that might store information in extraterrestrial life on alien worlds," said Benner.

The work is an important step towards better understanding what types of life forms could potentially be out there, as well as where we should be looking for them.

In the future, the team may also be able to synthesize other, even more exotic genetic sytems.

"Incorporating a broader understanding of what is possible in our instrument design and mission concepts will result in a more inclusive and, therefore, more effective search for life beyond Earth," said astrobiologist Mary Voytek.

Source: NASA.gov | Comments (35)

Tags: Extraterrestrial, DNA

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #26 Posted by Raptor Witness on 3 March, 2019, 7:09
My smartphone is proof of silica based life. It eats electricity, then poops light, sound and vibrations.
Comment icon #27 Posted by stereologist on 3 March, 2019, 14:26
There are 4 forces: gravity, EM, weak and strong. The weak and strong are observed in atomic nuclei. Gravity is what pulls the universe together. The rest of it is controlled by EM. Point to something and suspect EM and you are almost certainly correct. As you have correctly pointed out molecular bonds are covalent. I appreciate that.
Comment icon #28 Posted by sci-nerd on 5 March, 2019, 22:43
I finally cracked it! (Or rather someone helped me do it!) Molecular bonds are not equal to electromagnetism. They are electrostatic! The difference is obvious: "magnetism" is only present in electromagnetism. The reason for the lack of magnetism in molecular bonds is the lack of nucleus (proton/neutron) motion. In other words: When we are dealing with internal atom and molecular forces, magnetism does not apply. Only electrostatics does. PM me, and I'll show you the thread where it was explained to me! PS. I know I said I quit this, but your reply seemed like a plead to continue 
Comment icon #29 Posted by stereologist on 6 March, 2019, 0:03
Ok, but electrostatic is a part of the EM force. You can have electricity. You can have magnetism and the two are united under the EM force. There is the electroweak as well but the weak and EM are combined at energy levels well above what we encounter. Electricity and magnetism are combined under conditions we encounter every day.  As I mentioned before you pointed out which specific part of the EM force is in play in molecular bonds.  In a covalent bonds the particles do not behave as moving charged particles leading to the electric force being in play, not the magnetic force. The reason peo... [More]
Comment icon #30 Posted by Jon the frog on 7 March, 2019, 16:13
Everybody knows that they live among us and we have proof !
Comment icon #31 Posted by Takeshi69 on 8 March, 2019, 6:35
As a disgusted member of the human race, I would like to offer my services to you and your kind. All hail the grand AI, Long live the machines, lol. Hey, it'd be cool if UM-bot also had a chatbot feature. Ask basic questions and junk.
Comment icon #32 Posted by tmcom on 13 March, 2019, 2:41
It would be a relief if there was.
Comment icon #33 Posted by psyche101 on 13 March, 2019, 3:37
Why? 
Comment icon #34 Posted by tmcom on 13 March, 2019, 3:42
No more, "Reduce Yea Carbon Footprint and Repent" banter.
Comment icon #35 Posted by psyche101 on 13 March, 2019, 3:45
I'm not sure how carbon based life forms affect the levels being released. Any industrialised civilisation would most likely follow the same path. 


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