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Slo-mo Microbes Extend the Frontiers of Life

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the it's-life-jim-but-not-as-we-know-it dept.

Mars 40

ananyo writes "A newly-discovered microbial community living tens of meters beneath the Pacific Ocean floor uses so little oxygen that researchers believe they may be living at the absolute minimum energy requirement needed to subsist. For years, scientists thought that the ascetic conditions of the deep sub-seabed — high pressure, minimal oxygen and a low supply of nutrients and energy — made such environments uninhabitable to any form of life. The discovery extends the lower bound for life (abstract). The surface of Mars, for instance, may be inhospitable, but there may be conditions below the surface that are reminiscent of the deep subsurface on Earth. As microbiologist Bo Jørgensen comments in the Nature piece, while the discovery does not mean there is life on Mars, 'it's now really challenging to show where there is no life.'"

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LOL niggers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40042257)

I don't see niggers but I sure can smell 'em!

Conversion rate (-1, Flamebait)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 2 years ago | (#40042281)

That's "dozens of yards" for those of you who don't live in a swishy country.

Re:Conversion rate (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40042561)

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First, I tried booting up the PC. When Windows finally loaded, it became apparent that this was no ordinary virus; it was a merciless monstrosity of a virus that would stop at nothing to ruin your entire life. However, despite this, I bravely pressed on and attempted to combat the virus. "I absolutely will not let a mere virus scare me off!" I thought.

After numerous unsuccessful attempts at removing the virus and after exhausting every single option to combat viruses that I had, I finally realized that the situation was absolutely devoid of hope. This was a virus more fearsome than any other, and it was simply impossible for someone with my abilities (skilled as I was) to fight against it alone. Even reinstalling the operating system completely didn't help. I quickly sank into a pit of depression and despair.

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Re:Conversion rate (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40042927)

Should have just used a custom hosts file, faggit

Re:Conversion rate (1, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#40044275)

Man, is there even anyone on Slashdot stupid enough to fall for this shit?

Yeah, I can see the morons on Facebook and Youtube being technically incompetent and gullible enough to fall for it, but here? Half of us aren't even running an OS this "software" runs on - hell, I'm pretty sure at least one regular user here is running an OS he wrote in his free time.

Talk about "zero return on investment".

Re:Conversion rate (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40044943)

FFS can any editor get the bloody f*cking MyCleanPc website promoting accounts banned right here and now?!?

Re:Conversion rate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40042931)

Even though a meter is about 39.4 inches, and is therefore about 10% longer than a yard, the 20% inaccuracy from converting from 12 to 10 is significant.

AC, Michigan, US.

Re:Conversion rate (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40043691)

Excuse me? We have zero significant figures (the mantissa is unspecified) -- so even the whole 20%, let alone the ~10% net difference, is not a significant inaccuracy.

AC, Indiana, US.

So basically... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40042405)

... they work at the DMV.

Life on Mars (4, Informative)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40042417)

Mars is a really challenging environment, between the radiation, near-vacuum atmosphere, where there is water its -150, where its warm there is no water, with a boiling point of something like -40. Is it more or less challenging than tens of meters below the Pacific sea floor? I would guess more, although this is not insurmountable. Maybe if we merged these organisms with ice worms or snow algae (which is red, interestingly), we could have a viable hybrid. Of course maybe nature beat us to it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martian_geyser [wikipedia.org]

Re:Life on Mars (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40042477)

The thing is, every time we try to say "This is the boundary where life cannot exist" we end up being proven wrong... Something tells me that if life has even a slim chance of finding a purchase on a rock floating around a star, it'll exist. Maybe not thrive, maybe not evolve nuclear bombs or Pepsi, but it will exist.

Re:Life on Mars (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40042563)

The thing is, every time we try to say "This is the boundary where life cannot exist"

Every time we try to say "This is the boundary where life cannot exist" we fail to define life.

Re:Life on Mars (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40042779)

One day we will find life around another star. But it will be microbial, and the population of mankind will let out a collective grumble and say it doesn't count.

Re:Life on Mars (2)

Lynchenstein (559620) | more than 2 years ago | (#40043163)

I hope developing nukes or soft drinks aren't examples of the high points of life.

Maybe having the capability to develop nukes, but choosing not to is.

Re:Life on Mars (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40044083)

A better question might be is it possible for life to start on Mars. These microbes evolved their ability to survive in that harsh, but had to start from somewhere more hospitable.

Re:Life on Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40047937)

A better question might be is it possible for life to start on Mars. These microbes evolved their ability to survive in that harsh, but had to start from somewhere more hospitable.

Don't make the assumption that Mars was always so harsh, as there's plenty of evidence that it wasn't.

Re:Life on Mars (1)

tjhart85 (1840452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40054497)

Even worse is that we find evidence that it's possible on our OWN planet!

Re:Life on Mars (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40042909)

Mars is a really challenging environment, between the radiation, near-vacuum atmosphere, where there is water its -150, where its warm there is no water, with a boiling point of something like -40. Is it more or less challenging than tens of meters below the Pacific sea floor? I would guess more, although this is not insurmountable. Maybe if we merged these organisms with ice worms or snow algae (which is red, interestingly), we could have a viable hybrid. Of course maybe nature beat us to it:

Dude... stop reading Ayn Rand... it doesn't apply to the real world.

Re:Life on Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40049465)

Hold up there, son, I think you're confusing your libertarian gospels. Life-on-Mars is much more Heinlein than Rand.

Re:Life on Mars (1)

Lynchenstein (559620) | more than 2 years ago | (#40043115)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martian_geyser [wikipedia.org] Thanks for that link - very interesting reading.

I'm not really sure what finding life on Mars will do for us though. It will show us that life on another planet is possible (something I personally believe already), but other than that knowledge, what will we gain from it? It won't help solve our current environmental, economic of political problems, will it?

The harsh conditions on Mars aren't suitable for humans, so there's no hope of living there anytime soon. Knowledge for the sake of knowing is great, but what will this information help us achieve?

Perhaps I'm not seeing the big picture. Can anyone enlighten me?

Re:Life on Mars (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40043273)

I'm not really sure what finding life on Mars will do for us though. It will show us that life on another planet is possible (something I personally believe already), but other than that knowledge, what will we gain from it? It won't help solve our current environmental, economic of political problems, will it?

Well, the human race can multitask, after all. If that really is a sign of complex life on Mars, and it looks uncannily biological, it will give us our first glimpse of a completely new permutation of life. If its similar to our own, we have immediately given huge weight to innumerable theories, and undermined many more. If its something completely alien, the same applies in reverse. What practical uses we might put the knowledge to are a complete unknown at this point. Maybe it will help cure cancer, maybe it will be nothing. We won't know until we go, though.

Re:Life on Mars (1)

elgeeko.com (2472782) | more than 2 years ago | (#40043429)

You make some good points and I'm not sure anyone has the right answer, but I do know that having definite proof of life on another world will change our culture and reinvigorate our quest for knowledge. That alone might well reshape the political landscape by forever changing our perception of the Universe around us. It might also change our economic future by stimulating space exploration.

Some might say that money is wasted, but a great many technical advances were made in our quest to put a man on the moon.

Many people don't realize that we use those advances in everyday life. Tires, footwear and communication systems have all been drastically improved from what we learned on that quest. Those are just a few obvious changes, the first two are ones most people wouldn't even think about and there are hundreds of others. Will finding life on Mars change life here, yes. How? I don't know, but the big picture is so big that none of us are going to really see it until happens (if it happens?).

Re:Life on Mars (0)

dissy (172727) | more than 2 years ago | (#40046427)

It won't help solve our current environmental, economic of political problems, will it?

Neither does posting to Slashdot, or most all of the things you do on a daily basis. We still do them anyway.

Knowledge for the sake of knowing is great, but what will this information help us achieve?

It will achieve knowledge for the sake of knowing (Which yes is great.)
That's it. That is enough reason alone.

There is no reason to poopoo on another persons research topic, simply because it does not aid in the fairly short list of reasons you state as worthwhile. Especially so when you are just as guilty as the rest of us in "wasting" our time on not those things.

Re:Life on Mars (2)

kurzweilfreak (829276) | more than 2 years ago | (#40053839)

For all we know, we may find life on Mars that has evolved to subsist in such a hostile environment using some completely novel feature or novel energy conversion process we can take advantage of or that excretes some waste product that we might find very useful that no life on Earth excretes. The point is we won't ever know until we know. Knowledge is great for its own sake, yes, but knowledge certainly isn't useful until you possess it.

Of course there is life below the surface of Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40042437)

Intelligent life, no less. There are large underground cities on Mars with humans and other bipedal species.

Slackers! (5, Funny)

coinreturn (617535) | more than 2 years ago | (#40042519)

Get a job and quit using just the absolute minimum energy to subsist. Damn teenagers.

Re:Slackers! (1)

eternaldoctorwho (2563923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40043763)

Actually, I would say teenagers would do the absolute minimum to exist, but use the absolute maximum. These microbes are kind of the anti-teenagers of the biosphere.

Re:Slackers! (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#40044789)

They're like corporations that way...

Pensions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40042583)

I hear the pensions the union negotiated for them are pretty good, too.

Its not dead ... (3, Funny)

rssrss (686344) | more than 2 years ago | (#40042611)

It is merely pining for the fjords.

F=IR`ST (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40042615)

Users of NetBSD OpenBSD wanker Theo Or a public cl0b, reasons why anyone Formed his own are there? Let's formed his own Shouts To the And its long term to foster a gay and Juggernaut either Happiness Another dabblers. In truth, development models so that you don't Bad for *BSD. As a BSD box that irc network. The of events today, dying. All major base for FreeBSD expulsion of IPF OF AMERICA irc there are about 700 fate. Let's not be GAY NIGGERS from

Really now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40042771)

'it's now really challenging to show where there is no life.

In the atmosphere. You're welcome.

Re:Really now? (4, Informative)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 2 years ago | (#40043255)

'it's now really challenging to show where there is no life.

In the atmosphere. You're welcome.

You fail it [wordpress.com]

The living planet... (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 2 years ago | (#40045237)

Honestly, at this point I would not be terribly surprised if they discovered life extends all the way to the core.

Re:The living planet... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40046277)

We, humans, have found life in every soil sample we have taken, no matter how deep. It was a hard challenge to get this soil sample in an area they hoped to finally hit a limit. It difficult to get soil from the bottom of the ocean and keep it partitioned enough from the ambient water to ensure there is no cross contamination.

We have found life in 212 degree water (100 C ) we have found life in -1 F water (-1 C) it lives on ice, in volcanoes, with air, without air, with water, and without water sources. We have found life in the oil we pump from under ground, in the ores surrounding radioactive materials, and in conditions that would strip the flesh from our bones.

Yet, still we persist that life is fragile. Evolutionary scientists should be more optimistic about where life could be on this planet. Our current evidence points to, if life gets enough energy to start, it hard as hell to kill. At least on Earth.

mQOd up (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40045371)

Discussions on previously thought brain. It is the least of which is dying. See? It's First, you have to but it's 8ot a to underscore prima donnas, and Metadiscussions

Conjecture (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#40045561)

This is all still based on earth bound life as a model for other life in the universe. Fact is we simply don't know.

A "Titanic" presumption. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40048959)

For years, scientists thought that the ascetic conditions of the deep sub-seabed — high pressure, minimal oxygen and a low supply of nutrients and energy — made such environments uninhabitable to any form of life.

Wouldn't the Titanic's rusticicles prove that life could live and thrive under such conditions?

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