February 10, 2005
The NEW E.T.'s
When a person says "E.T.", images of the "Phone Home!" puppet come to mind for most. Others think of Grey's and Green's and world domination conspiracy theories emanating from the not so secret "Area 51".
Full Disclosure: I have been "removed" from area of the "secret base" in the past. Three times actually.
But there's another E.T. out there that people should take notice of. It's not Extra-Terrestial life, it's Exo-Terrestrial Life. Life on Earth that's not like "life as we know it." We generally consider "life" to be carbon based forms that use oxygen as it's primary fuel to keep all the various cellular structures running and giving us "life".
For a few decades now we've known about organisms on the ocean floor, clustered around volcanic vents that use sulphur compounds as their primary fuel. The discovery of such organism sent waves, not ripples, through the scientific community proving that life can exist in a variety of environments. The organisms were as different from other Earth life-forms as an IPod is from a glass of orange juice. It was a great day for science and revealed in a very real way that "we are most probably NOT alone."
Now we've got another player in the Universal Definition of Life-Forms. Organisms that are based on carbon, but use hydrogen as their basic fuel. Scientists have identified microbes in Yellowstone Hot Springs that use the most basic of all elements as their primary source of life sustaining energy. On a scarier note, similar organisms living on hydrogen have been discovered INSIDE THE STOMACH of other living beings, including humans.
The discovery is epic in that it adds yet another possibility for life to exist outside the planet Earth. After all if nature has developed THREE (and probably more yet undiscovered) very different life forms on our little blue green planet, it's almost certain that on other worlds, and not necessarily those similar to ours, life forms have developed in ways we can only imagine.
It's a great day for science. However, every time I read about stuff like this I feel so very very small. That's ok though, I'd rather be a small fish in a big pond than a big fish in a small pond.
Posted by JasonColeman at February 10, 2005 2:04 PM