THE REAL SCIENCE BEHIND:
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters
At every turn, we tend to make assumptions against the possibility of life.
We’ve said life can’t survive boiling, clearly false. We’ve said life needs sunlight to make food, obviously wrong. We’ve believed life can’t survive freezing, then met species of Arctic flies whose larvae can survive their bodies hitting -76°F. We’ve said life needs to be part of a food chain; enter Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator which lives 2 miles deep in a South African gold mine, fixing nitrogen, eating sulfate, in utter isolation.
~An excerpt from Sleep of Reason
THE REAL SCIENCE:
Sherwood Lollar is excited not only because of the peculiar the mine’s rock-eating life seems, but also because of the growing realization that strange forms of life might not be so peculiar after all. Scientists are starting to find similar microbes in other deep spots, including boreholes, volcanic vents on the bottom of the ocean and buried sediments far beneath the seafloor.
“The deep microbial realm reveals a biosphere that’s more extensive, resilient, varied and strange than we had realized,” said Robert Hazen, a mineralogist at the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory in Washington, and co-founder of Deep Carbon Observatory, a global project to study the deep biosphere.
Margaret Riley is a wordsmith, slow-kayaker, slow-skiier, photographer of strange realities, and a deep believer in the magic of story time.