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Monday, October 13, 2008

Cosmic Imperative

posted by on October 13 at 9:13 AM

Even here, in the underworld, life is possible:

chalkmine.jpgA bug which lives entirely on its own and survives without oxygen in complete darkness underground has been discovered in South Africa.

Desulforudis audaxviator, or bold traveller as it is known in English, relies on water, hydrogen and sulphate for its energy.

Because it gets by without oxygen, it could offer clues as to whether life exists on other planets.

The loneliest living species known to science was found inside a gold mine.

At the end of it all, one question remains: What makes life so obstinate? What is this mission, this imperative to be the thing that not being is not.

RSS icon Comments


It relies on water, but not oxygen? Ah, bad science journalism...

Posted by gember | October 13, 2008 9:53 AM

What makes you post in psuedointellecutal babble Charles?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 13, 2008 10:00 AM


It's like going to kiss a pretty girl and seeing a sore on her lip.

Posted by Curmudgeon | October 13, 2008 10:18 AM

Where are the boobies?

Posted by Banna | October 13, 2008 10:21 AM

As a child I was always facinated by the way a fish could be reanimated after freezing. Later I thought frozen comets could carry life to the far reaches of the universe. When I recently heard scientists talking about stars forming planets, our own solar system seemed a common occurence with planets forming in roughly the same ways around endless other stars. These common formations would seem to have a good chance of forming planets in "habitable" zones where life could flourish. It seems the universe, too, is bent on life's survival. Even the molecules in our bodies were formed inside stars. Now if you extrapolate time, living things on earth have a set of common DNA. A single blueprint that can be varied in endless ways to make living things survive varied enviroments. To me, it seems without life there wouldn't be a "reason" for the universe to exist, even though I guess it would. But who would care?

Posted by Vince | October 13, 2008 10:27 AM

Wow - wonder what Chuckster sees in THAT picture?

Posted by Choo choo! | October 13, 2008 11:04 AM

That's kind of a bullshit question ("what is this imperative").

You're basically saying, "Gosh, life is so prevalent. What makes it want to be so?" You may as well--equally logically--say, "Gosh, non-living matter is so prevalent. It must have some imperative that makes it want to be so!"

Posted by Dan | October 13, 2008 3:31 PM

I'm a UW grad student in the departments of Microbiology and Astrobiology (yes, Astrobiology). There are a couple things that I think should be corrected here. The "bug" is actually a bacterium, not an insect. This is an important distinction because there are lots of bacteria that don't use oxygen, some living inside of our own digestive tract. Oxygen appeared on the planet 2.4-2.7 billion years ago (about a billion years after life first appeared) BECAUSE a bacterium produced it as a waste product (the same bacterium that now lives inside of plant cells and performs photosynthesis - look up cyanobateria, if you're interested). The interesting thing about Desulforudis audaxviator is not that it doesn't use oxygen for metabolism, but that it is the only species in its habitat (the only known case of a single-species habitat). Also it's pretty awesome that it lives 3km underground. Sorry, if I'm being a downer. It's great that you're reporting on science in general.

Posted by Aaron | October 14, 2008 9:34 AM

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