“The Center of Gravity Has Shifted.” Carl Zimmer on the Arsenic Paper

In a wonderful post at Slate, Carl Zimmer describes the one wonderful thing about the whole #arseniclife paper published last November, and has identified what will probably be its lasting contribution: The reaction to that paper both catalyzed and revealed the power of more open peer review — a fast, post-publication peer review by the wider […]

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Science Publishes “Arsenic is Life” Critiques. Game On.

Alert readers will remember the scuffle that broke out last summer December over the “arsenic-is-life” paper by Felisa Wolfe-Simon and colleagues that claimed to have found that a bacterium from Mono Lake had been coaxed into substituting arsenic for phosphorous in its DNA. Many, including me, criticized both the paper and its presentation: the paper […]

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A Funny Arsenic Smell Upstream — What questions is it fair to ask about squishy science?

Are we squeezing everything we should out of the arsenic story? Some would say so. I’m not so sure. In a quick post-mortem yesterday on the Lake Mono bacterium, Brian Reid neatly ticks off how the “arsenic soap opera,” as he put it, “illustrates five trends in health and science communication that are likely to […]

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Arsenic and Primordial Ooze: A History Lesson

In the Guardian’s weekly podcast today, I discuss the Wolfe-Simon Mono Lake bacteria paper with science editor Alok Jha and astrobiologist Zita Martins. Our post-mortem covers the hype before and after the press conference; the questions raised about the study’s methods and findings; NASA’s attempt to ignore (and get everyone else to ignore) those questions; […]

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