“Know thou that every fixed star hath its own planets, and every planet its own creatures, whose number no man can compute.”
NASA announced a discovery today regarding a “microorganism (that) substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in its cell components.” It evolved on earth, but it can adapt to things that we consider toxic!
“The definition of life has just expanded,” said Ed Weiler, NASA’s associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington. “As we pursue our efforts to seek signs of life in the solar system, we have to think more broadly, more diversely and consider life as we do not know it.”
I have been wondering for a number of years why the search for life always seemed to discuss certain elements as being the only building blocks for life. As we look for life on other planets, it seems logical that not everything will be carbon-based, or even resemble what we understand life to be.
“The earth has its inhabitants, the water and the air contain many living beings and all the elements have their nature spirits, then how is it possible to conceive that these stupendous stellar bodies are not inhabited? Verily, they are peopled, but let it be known that the dwellers accord with the elements of their respective spheres. These living beings do not have states of consciousness like unto those who live on the surface of this globe: the power of adaptation and environment moulds their bodies and states of consciousness, just as our bodies and minds are suited to our planet.
…Beings who inhabit those distant luminous bodies are attuned to the elements that have gone into the composition of their respective spheres.”
(by the way, Baha’u'llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha wrote these passages over 100 years ago)
Edit: for a little humor – Arsenic-Based Life from xkcd.