The Arsenic Chronicles

A humble arsenic-friendly microbe from Mono Lake, Calif., has recently stirred a tempest in the science world's teapot. Here's the story as it played out over the last two weeks in tweets, blogs and news conferences, of course.


  1. Nov. 29, 2010. NASA announces a news conference "to discuss an
    astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of
    extraterrestrial life."
  2. This gets some attention.
  3. Meanwhile, reporters are calling researchers and space fans are looking forward to the event. Some grumble over Science magazine and NASA keeping the study embargoed from public release.
  4. Dec. 2, 2010.  After several days of complaints, Science magazine releases reporters bound by its embargoes -- where they receive early copies of studies to review with outside researchers in preparation for new stories, in return for promising not to publish the results ahead of a set time -- a little over an hour ahead of NASA's press conference.
  5. The electronic version of the paper is released by Science and early news reports emerge ahead of NASA's 2 p.m. ET news conference.
  6. The news conference begins with presentations from the researcher Felisa Wolfe-Simon, NASA officials, and a skeptical outside researcher, Steve Benner.
  7. Astrobiology Press Conference (201012020002HQ)
    Astrobiology Press Conference (201012020002HQ)