by Boots Hart, CAP

Thursday, December 2, 2010

News Flash: NASA Caught the Arsenic Bug! How Uranian!

Uranus, Earth and the Moon drawn to relative size
source: NASA

When astrologers say that Uranus is a planet of things changing and discovery, they mean it. After all, come come Monday (Sunday for those in the Americas or Pacific basin areas) Uranus goes direct in the 3rd decanate of Pisces. Conjunct Jupiter, even.

That means today we are moving into Uranus 'station/direct' territory. So it's a prime moment to have something from outside of ourselves (the 'direct' part) happen (Uranus)...and change (Uranus) how we feel about ourselves and our place in this world (Pisces) - all while expanding what we know (Jupiter). And what may be possible (Uranus/Jupiter).

What am I talking about? Well, didn't you hear? NASA has found a form of life right here on earth which is built not on phosphorous (as most everything we know of is)…but on arsenic. 

Arsenic, you say? Isn’t that poisonous?

To us, yes. But the basic concept of why arsenic is poisonous brings raises a whole bunch of interesting questions most of which would start with the periodic table of the elements.

Remember the periodic table – from science class?

I know…those of you who are not geekish are groaning. But bear with – this isn’t exotic.

The point is that Phosphorus and Arsenic are in the same vertical column. "P" is phosphorus (element number 15) and "As" is arsenic (element number 33).

And that means that they have much in common, atomic-structure-wise. So in other words, its exactly the fact that they sort of ‘look’ like the same thing at the atomic level but really so aren’t the same thing – that’s what makes arsenic so poisonous to our bodies. The body mistakes it for something really similar, and the results are truly terrible. (You who have ever mistaken the sugar bin for the salt bin probably can testify to this, right?)

Anyway…this suggests something very cool about ‘alien’ life. It might be all about forms of life, like the bacteria NASA has found in California’s Mono Lake which are indeed, aliens on Earth.

 South Tufa area of Mono Lake
in California's Sierra Nevada 

Well, sort of. But yes. And we the ‘normal’ phosphorous based beings of Earth, we seem to be getting along fine with these little arsenic critters. In fact it might actually be argued that we have more problems with our own kind than these Mono Lake bacteria.

So next time you hear of some ecological defense fund trying to ‘save’ some lake, or mountain top or expanse of tundra or rainforest, give it some thought. There may be a very good reason why our dear Mother Nature has brought arsenic-based life to be here on Earth. And even if you don’t think so today, are you really so sure you’re willing to risk an infinity of tomorrows?

Some of you (principally those who live in California) probably also remember the big fight over natural water rights for Mono Lake which spewed across the pages some few years back now. Speaking of Uranus, to have taken away its water would have not only killed the lake (a Uranian anarchistic act against the Earth), but also our chances of making this very Uranian discovery.

Aren’t you glad the preservationists – and as it turns out, the rest of us won? Next time we talk about Aquarius and its twin rulers Saturn-the-preservationist and defender of facts against Uranus the modernizer, the changer, the innovator - this is one very good moment to think back on. Mostly associated with society and 'things societal,' Aquarius asks that we know what we're doing before we do anything without merely clinging to tradition or 'old ways' because its what we're familiar with.

Science is about as Aquarian as it gets: you need to take the (Saturn) time to learn what's known, then you can make new (Uranus) discoveries.

And that's not just science of the test tube or NASA type that we're talking about. This is the science of life. Of the human race. Of our world and our society and human society and nature.

As for today’s announcement, here’s the NASA link. As usual, the NASA version of same is interesting and really rather cool!

And in case you can’t use links, here’s the web address…

Oh...PS here...because we are just moving into the Uranus station, we can count on more information yet to come on this!

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