Try following a research project on-line.

Professor Rosie Redfield’s (UBC, Vancouver, Canada) on-line criticism of Felicia Wolfe-Simon’s proposal that a particular species of bacteria utilising arsenic in place of phosphate in it’s DNA backbone featured in early criticism of this work.

Having obtained samples of the bacteria, Prof. Redfield is live blogging her research on GFAJ-1. The articles are a little geeky–it is research, after all–but I’d encourage my non-scientist readers to try their hand at following the story as it evolves, as it gives you a feel for a research project.*

So far there is:

(As you can guess from the hashtags in the titles she announces (some of the) new blog posts on her twitter account using the #arseniclife hashtag.)

And some backgrounders:

For those wanting the back story, are her earlier posts responding to the original paper; I’ve also briefly pointed at the published criticisms. There are the latter two from many:


If I wasn’t over my head in work and I’d at least tempt myself into pitching in with some analysis of their DNA sequence data (from other work in their lab, unrelated to the arsenic life study, see also the earlier postson this [among others]). It’d be fun. Looking at protein-DNA interactions was my first love. Erm, research-wise, that is!

* Less funding and teaching. Endless grant applications are part of the deal and, for most, so is teaching (and the inevitable marking that comes with that) and of course lab and departmental administration. But you’ll still get to see part of the research part of things. Also, few research projects get this amount of attention!

Other articles on Code for life:

Arsenic life — more criticism, formally published

NASA: science shouldn’t be debated in media and blogs?!

Desk Guide for Covering Science, and academic conferences

Coiling bacterial DNA

Temperature-induced hearing loss