829: Arsenic-Based Life

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Arsenic-Based Life
According to a new paper published in the journal Science, reporters are unable to thrive in an arsenic-rich environment.
Title text: According to a new paper published in the journal Science, reporters are unable to thrive in an arsenic-rich environment.

[edit] Explanation

Arsenic is a chemical element which is known to be poisonous to humans and most other life forms. In 2010 NASA announced the discovery of bacteria GFAJ-1 and claimed it to be able to sustain itself when starved of phosphorus, by substituting arsenic for a small percentage of its phosphorus. Like most other scientists Randall did not believe in this[citation needed], and indeed it it was disproved in 2012. [citation needed]

The scientists are worried that the press conference announcing their bacteria discovery may be seen as unexciting, especially with the reporters hoping for news of life on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. The researchers decide to try and make the event more exciting, but admit that they don't know how to throw a good party. This is probably a dig at scientists, who are often portrayed as being somewhat socially inept. As a result they turn to the internet for advice, and come up with a plan to serve cocktails and hors d'œuvres to fit the theme of the event.

The final panel shows the results of their plans, with the reporters dead or dying, and it becomes clear that in order to fit the theme the researchers have laced the food and drinks with arsenic. This is another joke on the perception that scientist may be extremely clever within their field, but sometimes lack common sense.

The words "hors d'oerves" at the comic are just a misspelling by Randall for "hors d'oeuvres" (in French "hors d'œuvre" both singular and plural). The English pronunciation of these words is awr-DURVZ /ɔrˈdɜrvz/, with the R before the V, not after, which explains the mistake.[1] As opposed to the original French pronunciation, where the v and r keep the same order.[2]

The girl with the curly ponytail in this comic is different from the character commonly referred to as Ponytail.

[edit] Transcript

[Three people, two women and a man, stand looking at a laptop screen, which is sitting on a desk. The woman with a ponytail is pointing at the screen.]
Ponytail: Our arsenic-based DNA discovery is cool, but these reporters are expecting life on Titan! Our press conference will be such a letdown!
[Ponytail turns around to face Megan.]
Ponytail: Okay, we need to make it more exciting for them. How do you make an event entertaining?
Megan: Dunno, I suck at parties. Music, I guess?
[Ponytail girl turns back around and leans over to start typing on the computer, while the other two look on. Megan puts her hand to her chin.]
Ponytail: WikiHow says you can "serve cocktails and hors d'oerves that fit the theme of your event."
Megan: Easy enough!
[Ponytail girl stands at a podium on a stage, the man stands amongst the audience with a tray. All the audience members are either dead or dying, having fallen onto the floor or slumped over in their seats.]

[edit] References

  1. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/hors+d%27oeuvre
  2. http://fr.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/%C5%93uvre


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Discussion

What a waste of good poison, the food at conferences usually does that on it's own anyways. Davidy22[talk] 13:27, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Maybe it is to be noted that in the comic, "serve cocktails and hors d'oerves" should have been written "serve cocktails and hors d'œuvres"? 194.254.109.166 15:14, 24 October 2013 (UTC)

I do not talk French but my dictionary tells me that "d'œuvre" (without the trailing s) is correct. Thanks for your hint, explanation is updated.--Dgbrt (talk) 19:41, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
"Hors d'oeuvres" is English; "hors d'œuvre" (with a ligature and without the trailing s) is French. 173.245.50.84 12:53, 29 January 2014 (UTC)
I am dumbfounded at the pronounciation part of the explanation. Do you really pronounce it with the "r" sound before the "v" sound? Why would you do that? 141.101.102.216 15:24, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
Basing my pronunciation on what I heard in the TV series Bewitched, I get something like /ɔːˈdɜːv/. In a rhotic accent, this would be /ɔ:ɹˈdɜːɹv/. RyanofTinellb (talk) 01:18, 30 December 2014 (UTC)
None the less angicised it is pronounced ordurves. Arsenic is a pick-me-up in low doses and widely used at one time to show off horses, especially at sales. Many people died through its abuse in the good old days. Many creatures exist on poisonous habitats. On one Nat Geo show they had bison in Yellowstone eating arsenic rich vegetation in winter.

I have heard there is a grass in Amlwch's old copper quarry that can grow in copper rich soil that kills everything else.

Not sure how true any of that is but plenty of creatures live in extreme heat and pressure environments.

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 21:33, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
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