Quick post today: busy with grading.
You will have heard of NASA’s press release, which all are characterizing as “redefining life as we know it.” As I read about this on other sites, it appeared that NASA’s astrobiology group had discovered, on Earth, a bacteria that natively replaced arsenic with phosphorus in its DNA. But NASA’s press release reads:
The newly discovered microbe, strain GFAJ-1, is a member of a common group of bacteria, the Gammaproteobacteria. In the laboratory, the researchers successfully grew microbes from the lake on a diet that was very lean on phosphorus, but included generous helpings of arsenic. When researchers removed the phosphorus and replaced it with arsenic the microbes continued to grow. Subsequent analyses indicated that the arsenic was being used to produce the building blocks of new GFAJ-1 cells.
The key issue the researchers investigated was when the microbe was grown on arsenic did the arsenic actually became incorporated into the organisms’ vital biochemical machinery, such as DNA, proteins and the cell membranes. A variety of sophisticated laboratory techniques was used to determine where the arsenic was incorporated.
This makes it look like the bacteria, in some sense artificially, replaced its phosphorus after being deprived of that element, and that actual in situ versions of the arsenic-only microbe were not found. And it also appears that only some, but not all phosphorous was replaced.
Remarkable no matter which way you look at it; fascinating. Any biochemists or biologists out there who can explain this more in depth?
Global Warming Survey
I received this press release, in which some of you might have an interest. My memory tells me that I was one of the people who filled out the survey, but it was a while ago and I can’t recall.
The Greenhouse Gas Management Institute and Sequence Staffing are pleased to announce the results of The 2010 Greenhouse Gas & Climate Change Workforce Needs Assessment Survey, our second annual international survey to determine the latest workforce needs of the greenhouse gas and global climate change industry.
The full results are here. Very slick presentation; not much substance to my eye.
1. Climate change remains an emerging field where practitioners rise quickly through the ranks.
2. GHG training gets high marks overall, but serious reservations are noted.
3. U.S. facilities are ill-prepared for regulatory emissions reporting, while American and international companies cite confidence in climate risk disclosure.
4. Climate change practitioners support U.S. carbon pricing, yet are concerned about the level of public understanding on climate issues.
5. The carbon management software market is still in an embryonic stage.
6. Practitioners are concerned with peer competency; auditors are divided over the quality of work.
7. Carbon markets are not up to snuff; auditing needs enhanced governance.
8. GHG personnel are failing to meet current market requirements; competency concerns loom with the expansion of climate programs.
9. Climate employers and job seekers cite challenges in demonstrating and assessing carbon competency; they see professional certification as a fix.
The second “finding” reminds me of an opening scene in the John Wayne movie Donovan’s Reef. The CEO of a Boston shipping company was asking a board member, a prim, aged relative, his opinion on the matter before them. “No comment,” he said, “With reservations.” Package that quote up in fancy dress, and you have the 2010 Greenhouse Gas & Climate Change Workforce Needs Assessment Survey.