Field of Science

Comment posted on Rosen paper

Last week a paper appeared on the BioEssays Early View page, titled Life and death with arsenic, and subtitled Arsenic life: An analysis of the recent report "A bacterium that can grow by using arsenic instead of phosphorus"*.  It's a good overview of the properties of arsenic that are relevant to biology, and of many of the flaws in the Wolfe-Simon paper.

I've just posted the following comment on the BioEssays Discussions page for this paper:
The authors should not have dismissed the  extensive and well-supported online evaluation of the Wolfe-Simon paper with the single sentence "This paper has generated significant commentary, often as anonymous electronic communications."

Many of the points that Rosen et al. present without attribution were first raised by other researchers in  online articles, in authoritative blogs and in signed comments.  The subtitle "Arsenic life" is even taken from the discussion's Twitter hashtag "#arseniclife".
It hasn't appeared yet - comments have to be first approved by the editors.

* This link just takes you to the Abstract.  I can't tell whether the paper is open-access or not - the authors would have to have paid $3000 for this, so probably not.  Sorry.


  1. Your comment is up now - and you're right, it isn't open-access. As of late Monday there has been no other comment.

    Too bad.

  2. Hi Rosie

    Loved your critique so much, I just had to cite you. See

    Hope all is well you in Vancouver.

    Tym Lawrence

  3. I sent one. They asked me an editing question and I hope it shows up when that's cleared up.

  4. Does all this mean that I should be asking for a refund?


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