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June 5, 2012
The Redfield Paper Is Out (And So Are Arsenic Bacteria, It Seems)
Via Curious Wavefunction comes the news that Rosie Redfield and her lab have their paper coming out in Science refuting the "arsenic bacteria" results. It should be out on the journal's web site shortly, but is available at Arxiv beforehand.
I've been following Redfield's blogged results over the last few months, on and off, so the conclusions of this manuscript will not come as a surprise. She has been unable - completely unable - to substantiate the original claims of arsenate-driven growth and incorporation into biomolecules. Given the extraordinary nature of the original paper, the ball is now back in Wolfe-Simon et al.'s court. The default setting is that claims like those probably aren't real, and they need to be able to stand up to solid scrutiny.
I'll be very interested to see how this plays out. The authors of the original paper have been quite firm about only responding to criticism that's appeared in the official scientific literature, and have made remarks about how they're not going to deal with "website experiments" until they're published. Well, published they are, and in the same big journal as the original paper. What now?
I think their only hope is to advance specific, testable reasons why Redfield's results are incorrect. If it gets down to "Well, we get these results, and we don't see why you don't", and never advances from there, then the amazing results are almost certainly wrong. The world as we know it wins the tiebreakers in science.
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