The Arsenic Life Debate
For this forum we will examine a case study about the discovery of a bacterium capable of substituting arsenic for phosphorus in its DNA. The paper was controversial and subject to debate on very public forums such as twitter and blog posts. In this forum we will discuss the findings of the paper and examine the scientific review process.
Read through the attached case study and answer the questions posed within the document. Using your answers from the document, answer any 4 of the questions below. Write your post in a narrative format based on your answers. Original posts are due by midnight EST on Wednesday. Replies are due by midnight EST on Sunday of week 2. Answer to student questions are due by midnight on Sunday of week 3.
1) Did the reporter Alexis C Madrigal break his agreement with the journal Science by releasing his statement on Twitter? If you were responsible for Science’s public relations division would you revoke his access to future Sciencearticles ahead of the embargo? Why or why not?
2)What would Felisa need in order to convince other researchers that a life form uses arsenic in its cells and does not merely survive in the presence of (or tolerate high levels of) arsenic?
3) Given that Rosie used slightly different techniques to replicate Felisa’s work, does this refute the original arsenic life results?
4) How do you expect other researchers to react to Felisa’s work? Is she likely to suffer a professional penalty? Why or why not?
5) What is peer review in science? What are some of the strengths and imperfections of the peer review system in science?
6) Once published, should science be debated in the public realm or should science be debated in a”closed discussion forum” among scientists until a consensus can be delivered to the public? Why?