Saturday

Super life recently found in... a crystal?!

Super life recently found in... a crystal!!! 

No shit, Sherlock.   Or should I ask, "Have scientist finally figured out there is more to a crystal than the calculations of a computer or ticking of a clock?

Okay, Scientist have known for sometime that crystals are good for things such as running a clock, tuning an analog radio, and most recently, the basis for all microelectronics including the iPhone.  But life, now that's news. 

Warning!  the next paragraph might be too "out there" for some, for it includes the lost civiliazaton of Atlantis! 
 
In Atlantis, at the peak of the Atalantean civilization, perhaps some 15,000 years ago, crystals were used a lot, most notably as high energy power rods (don't ask how I know, I do).  Now, these tools were used for everything from architecture, medicine, arts, even climate control.  Unfortunately, the Atlantean people did not evolve beyond the arrogance of personal power games and so self-destructed -- much as we are doing now.  Just look outside your window.

Crystals are also good for inspiration, many Mystical writers such as  Hidergard von Bingen, Arnoldus Saxo, and John Mandeville used them to help them write their wonderful works.   Also, many past artist such as in Fatimid art, and modern artist such as Carly Waito, Debra Baxter, and Amy Brener, have used crystals for inspiration in the most wonderful ways.   And of course, there are the many medical and spiritual properties of crystals which hundreds, if not thousands, of publications have been written on, par exemple:



 So, getting back to my original point, in today's news feed, they are reporting how "Super Life" has been found in crystals that could be 50,000 years old.  (Good luck getting that peer reviewed.)  I've cut it out here for you to read for it seems to be one of those factual articles that won't be available for long:   

BOSTON (AP) — In a Mexican cave system so beautiful and hot that it is called both Fairyland and hell, scientists have discovered life trapped in crystals that could be 50,000 years old. The bizarre and ancient microbes were found dormant in caves in Naica, Mexico, and were able to exist by living on minerals such as iron and manganese, said Penelope Boston, head of NASA's Astrobiology Institute.

"It's super life," said Boston, who presented the discovery Friday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Boston.

If confirmed, the find is yet another example of how microbes can survive in extremely punishing conditions on Earth. Though it was presented at a science conference and was the result of nine years of work, the findings haven't yet been published in a scientific journal and haven't been peer reviewed.  Boston planned more genetic tests for the microbes she revived both in the lab and on site.
The life forms — 40 different strains of microbes and even some viruses — are so weird that their nearest relatives are still 10 percent different genetically. That makes their closest relative still pretty far away, about as far away as humans are from mushrooms, Boston said.

The Naica caves — an abandoned lead and zinc mine — are half a mile (800 meters) deep. Before drilling occurred by a mine company, the mines had been completely cut off from the outside world. Some were as vast as cathedrals, with crystals lining the iron walls. They were also so hot that scientists had to don cheap versions of space suits — to prevent contamination with outside life — and had ice packs all over their bodies.

Boston said the team could only work about 20 minutes at a time before ducking to a "cool" room that was about 100 degrees (38 Celsius).

NASA wouldn't allow Boston to share her work for outside review before Friday's announcement so scientists couldn't say much. But University of South Florida biologist Norine Noonan, who wasn't part of the study but was on a panel where Boston presented her work, said it made sense.

"Why are we surprised?" Noonan said. "As a biologist I would say life on Earth is extremely tough and extremely versatile."

This isn't the oldest extreme life. Several years ago, a different group of scientists published studies about microbes that may be half a million years old and still alive. Those were trapped in ice and salt, which isn't quite the same as rock or crystal, Boston said.

The age of the Naica microbes was determined by outside experts who looked at where the microbes were located in the crystals and how fast those crystals grow.

It's not the only weird life Boston is examining. She is also studying microbes commonly found in caves in the United States, Ukraine and elsewhere that eat copper sulfate and seem to be close to indestructible.

"It's simply another illustration of just how completely tough Earth life is," Boston said.
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Follow Seth Borenstein at http://twitter.com/borenbears and his work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/seth-borenstein


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