Skip to comments.‘Slow Life’ and its Implications
Posted on 08/07/2008 8:52:36 AM PDT by LibWhacker
Imagine a form of life so unusual that we cannot figure out how it dies. Thats exactly what researchers are finding beneath the floor of the sea off Peru. The microbes being studied there single-celled organisms called Archaea live in time frames that can perhaps best be described as geological. Consider: A bacteria like Escherichia Coli divides and reproduces every twenty minutes or so. But the microbes in the so-called Peruvian Margin take hundreds or thousands of years to divide.
House goes on to discuss what a slow metabolism may imply about environments outside our own planet. Imagine hydrothermal vents on Europa, where the energy ration may be slim. For that matter, with Phoenix still working its magic at the Martian pole, imagine subsurface aquifers on that planet whose energy resources may be just enough to keep microbes like these alive. And ponder the implication for lifes survival anywhere, for the sub-ocean floor may be the most bulletproof place on a planet, even when an incoming asteroid is substantial.
In essence, these microbes are almost, practically dead by our normal standards, says Christopher H. House (Penn State). They metabolize a little, but not much.
It seems remarkable to think that a large percentage of life on Earth perhaps one-third of the planets biomass may exist in forms that have yet to be subjected to laboratory analysis, but at least in this unusually active area off Peru, where organic materials are continually being deposited, microbes adapted to a far different kind of life than we are familiar with are flourishing. Reader Hans Bausewein, who sent links to this story, noted the tenacity of life that these results suggest. Get the process rolling and it seems to spread into every possible niche, at least on Earth, and the betting here is that the story is similar on other worlds.
The paper is Biddle et al., Metagenomic signatures of the Peru Margin subseafloor biosphere show a genetically distinct environment, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 105 No. 30 pp. 10583-10588 (July 29, 2008). Abstract online. Summary in this Penn State news release.
Can we harvest them as a renewable energy source?
Nope...they’re net consumers not producers.
Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution. I think this or something like it has been posted.
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Imagine a form of life so unusual that we cannot figure out how it dies.”
Sounds like my ex-mother-in-law.
Just think about this little bit of the coming future. Once you upload a mind and start it’s mental processes running across silicon ... WE become slow life to them.
“Imagine a form of life so unusual that we cannot figure out how it dies.
These Helen Thomas threads are getting redundant......(sarc)
I wouldn't be so sure about that.
These depths include sediments from both primarily sulfate-reducing methane-generating regions of the sediment column.IMHO, can it be harvested without the watermelons going nuts? Are these critters the source of methane clathrates?
They'll produce faster than a Democrat drilling program...
Yep. The landing party may have it whacked into slices or conveneint chunks and built a hut out of them before it could say "ouch".