Following incubation at 121oC for 1 hour and longer, a marked change occurs in the internal appearance of the Red Rain cells (Fig.4 c (i) and d (i)), as small cells appear in the original larger cells. These small cells can be regarded as “daughter cells” having the same morphology as their “mother cells”. The size of the daughter cells ,after 1h exposure to 121oC, ranges from 30 nm to 120 nm in size (Fig 4 c (i), (ii) and b (i), (ii)). The cell wall of these daughter cells is seen to thicken following incubation for 2hours (Fig.5 (i) and (ii)).In conclusion, the results of the present study clearly establishes that red cells discovered in the Kerala rain, replicate at 121oC and that there is a significant increase in the number of cells after incubation at 121oC. Furthermore, optical microscopy and electron microscopy of post-incubated red cells confirms that these cells are hyperthermophiles. The formation of daughter cells having the same morphology as the mother cells clearly shows that Red Rain Cells are not single endospores, such as those seen in bacteria, such as species of Bacillus and Clostridium.The optimum growth conditions and upper temperature limit of these cells is yet to be determined. Although autoclaving at 121oC for 20 mins kills most microorganims, some spores of Bacillus and Clsotridium species can resist this treatment and germinate to form vegetative cells when incubated at lower temperatures (Hyum et al,1983,Vessoni,et al.1996). Here, however, we have shown that, unlike heat resistant bacterial spores, Red Rain cells grow and produce daughter calls when incubated at 121oC for 2 hours. The results of these experiments show the remarkable ability of Red Rain cells to grow and replicate at 121oC and thereby supports the hyperthermostability of red cells, as reported by Louis and Kumar (2003); no attempt however, was made to confirm their claims that Red Rain cells grow at 300oC.The origin of Red Rain, and the cells that it contains, has yet to be discovered, although the results of this study suggest that, since such cells are adapted to growth and reproduction at high temperatures, they likely originate in an extreme environment which is at times exposed to high temperatures; whether such environments occur on Earth, or elsewhere, has yet to be determined. (Emphasis mine).[…]While the origin of the red rain cells remains uncertain, the possibility of their astronomical relevance has been suggested in several papers (Louis and Kumar, 2003, 2006). In this connection, the hyperthermophile properties discussed in the present paper and the unusual fluorescence behaviour are worthy of note.We conclude this section by comparing spectra in Fig 7 with astronomical spectra of a fluorescnence phenomenon (ERE emission) for which no convincing abiotic model is still available, Fig 9 shows normalised ERE emission in several astronomical objects and Fig 10 shows the same emission in the famous Red Rectangle, a nebulosity associated with a planetary nebula (Witt and Boronson, 1990; Furton and Witt, 1992, Perrin et al, 1995, Hoyle and Wickramsinghe, 1996). Although non-biological PAH explanations are still being attempted their success has so far been minimal.[…]A spectrum of starlight from a blue star could provide the range of excitaton wavelengths that corresponds to those involved in Fig. . The correspondence of profile and peak fluorescence wavelength between the red rain spectra and the ERE spectrum of the red rectangle is impressive. We conclude this paper with a recollection of an earlier comment published by Hoyle and Wickramasinghe:“Once again the Universe gives the appearance of being biologically constructed, and on this occasion on a truly vast scale. Once again those who consider such thoughts to be too outlandish to be taken seriously will continue to do so. While we ourselves shall continue to take the view that those who believe they can match the complexities of the Universe by simple experiments in their laboratories will continue to be disappointed.” (Emphasis mine).
On April 28th last Wednesday, The Sun of the UK, published an article about a NASA source claiming there was evidence for life on Mars (they have since taken it out). However, it didn’t take NASA long to print a disclaimer:
A Wednesday article in the U.K.’s “The Sun” newspaper entitled, “NASA: Evidence of Life on Mars,” reported that they agency had unveiled “compelling evidence” for Martian organisms. But NASA officials and veteran Mars mission scientists say “no.”
“This headline is extremely misleading,” said Dwayne Brown, a spokesman for NASA based at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. “This makes it sound like we announced that we found life on Mars, and that is absolutely, positively false.”
The piece claimed that the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which have been wheeling around the surface of the red planet since January 2004, found pond scum, which the paper calls “the building blocks of life as we know it.”
“I think they have taken this stuff out of context,” Brown said.
Such a discovery would truly have been groundbreaking, since pond scum, scientifically known as cyanobacteria, are actually a form of life themselves, not just building blocks for it.
“I can only assume that the Sun reporter misunderstood,” said Cornell University planetary scientist Steve Squyres, principal investigator of the Mars Exploration Rover project, who was quoted in the story. “What Spirit and Opportunity have found is sulfate minerals… not organic materials, not pond scum, and not the building blocks of life as we know it.
Hmm..did Dr. Squyres get carried away in the interview, or did the tabloid ‘Sun’ do what all tabloids do, stretch a “might be” into a “fer sure?”
Now here’s something NASA can handle; finding life on Earth:
If alien life is ever discovered, scientists expect it will most likely be of the simple, microbial variety. And now they’ve found some serious signs of such life, right here on Earth. And the clues and the methodology could help researchers find life on Jupiter’s moon Europa.
In a pair of images released today — one from NASA’s EO-1 satellite and a closer one taken from a helicopter — NASA researchers explained their examination of a glacier-carved valley that is like none other on Earth. The spot, high in the Canadian Arctic on Ellesmere Island, is called Borup Fiord Pass. It is the only known place on our planet where sulfur from a natural spring is deposited over ice.
The sulfur leaves a pale yellow stain on the ice, and scientists say it’s a clear sign of biological activity.
The sulfur stain, clearly visible in the helicopter image, is not visible by regular satellite photography. But another sensor on the satellite, called Hyperion, makes measurements in wavelengths of light we can’t see. Using this hyperspectral data from Hyperion scientists were able to map the location of sulfur deposits. In effect, they’ve seen clear signs of life from space.
What they learn from all this may help us find life elsewhere in the solar system, according to a statement from NASA.
All kidding aside, the last statement is true in that these techniques would be useful for finding primitive life on Europa, Titan and Enceladus.
Nice, safe, microbial life. No large invading fleets there.
Some of my friends, both cyberspace and local, don’t hold much truck with the idea of ‘Gaia’ or ‘The Living Earth’. The idea of a whole planet as a personal, living, breathing being is an alien concept for a lot of people. To equate the planet itself to a status rivaling humans, gods or ‘God’ is anathema to American Puritan sensibilities and enters the territory of ‘radical’ environmentalists, tree-huggers, hippies and other disparaging names put to children of nature.
Well, thanks once again to that dreaded empirical evil called science, evidence rears its’ ugly head and puts a little credence into the ‘Gaia’ theory:
It’s the basement apartment like no other. Life has been found 1.6 kilometres beneath the sea floor, at temperatures reaching 100 °C.
The discovery marks the deepest living cells ever to be found beneath the sea floor. Bacteria have been found deeper underneath the continents, but there they are rare. In comparison, the rocks beneath the sea appear to be teaming with life.
John Parkes, a geobiologist at the University of Cardiff, UK, hopes his team’s discovery might one day help find life on other planets. He says it might even redefine what we understand as life, and, bizarrely, what we understand by “age”.
Parkes has been hunting for deep life for over 20 years. Recently, he and his colleagues examined samples of a mud core extracted from between 860 metres and 1626 metres beneath the sea floor off the coast of Newfoundland.
They found simple organisms known as prokaryotes in every sample. Prokaryotes are organisms that often have just one cell. Their peculiarity is that, unlike any other form of life, their DNA is not neatly packed into a nucleus.
How do you like that! Real single-celled organisms living in the regolith of the planet itself, under the oceans.
But how did they get there? The geobiologists are unsure. One theory is that they got buried gradually by sedimentary settling. Another is that the cells got ‘sucked up’ through muddy areas. And the organisms resemble organisms found around geothermal vents on the ocean floor located near geologically active fault zones.
Interestingly, great masses of this lifeform are found 3.2 to 5 kilometers under the surface of the Earth:
We have recovered living cells from depths of 3.2 km to about 5 km in South Africa,” says Tullis Onstott of Princeton University. “But what I find most interesting in Parkes’ samples is the high density of microbial cells. They are about 100 to 1000-fold greater than in our terrestrial environments at comparable depths or temperatures…
Presently nobody has any idea why or how these organisms live in these conditions or how they got there. But if the theory of Gaia has any basis in fact, could the planet itself be forming life from internal chemicals and processes and thus working them to the surface via volcanic action and the deep ocean geothermal vents?
Nature is a wondrous mechanism. Earth and our Solar System were formed from materials left over from ancient supernovas and destroyed galaxies.
Life could be as common in the Universe as stardust. They’re of the same stuff!