Extreme_Life - Extreme Life on Earth Stephen Eikenberry 9...

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Extreme Life on Earth Stephen Eikenberry 9 September 2010 AST 2037 1
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Life on Earth So far, we have focused on “normal” life on Earth The sort of standard critters, plants, and bacteria we are used to We will use this as a standard “baseline” for evaluating conditions for life to develop elsewhere But … 2
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The Goldilocks Syndrome Earth is “just right” for this sort of life Conversely, standard life is “just right” for Earth Does that mean that life can ONLY be that way? Or is it just that, because we live on Earth, we mostly see “Earth-standard” life? 3
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Extreme” Life on Earth There are forms of life on Earth which seem “extreme” compared to standard life (No, not talking about the guys on “Jackass”) These forms of life show how far life deviates from “normal” and still survives and reproduces This gives us some idea of the limitations of life in the Universe (at least Earth-like life) 4
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Extreme Life: Aquifex Aeolicus In the 1960’s, biologists were interested in studying “how extreme” life could be They knew that microbes lived in water downstream from hot springs in Yellowstone National Park The springs themselves reached temperatures of ~85 ° C (185 ° F) – near the boiling point of water The question: How far upstream (close to the hottest water) could microbes survive? 5
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High Temps: So What? What’s the Big Deal about life at high temperatures? Experience says that putting living creatures in boiling hot water kills them Mmmmm … lobster!
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