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Science and Technology "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan.

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Old June 2 2011, 05:23 PM   #1
Sean Aaron
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Deepest multi-cellular organism found

It's a couple species of worm; one new to science.

The Rest of the Story

I just hope these guys don't wake up Godzilla:

The authors of the study expect to find other multicellular animals far beneath our planet's surface, and are preparing to descend again to search for others.
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Old June 2 2011, 05:28 PM   #2
YellowSubmarine
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Re: Deepest multi-cellular organism found

I've always said that we should for life on Mars underground...

Life needs influx of energy, and the development of life needs effortless energy source (such as the sun). This rules out life developing under the surface of present-day Mars, but life could have easily developed on the surface or moved underground or developed under the surface when the planet was more active. Life has little place on present Martian surface though, there's absolutely no water there, and life as we know it sucks without a solvent.

I always wondered why do we expect to find the possible life on the surface and easily. I guess we assume that because life on Earth is everywhere, life on other planets would be either everywhere or nowhere, so if it is underground we'd find evidence on the surface, and it will eventually spread everywhere and adapt to everything. But the truth is that some planets might have some life that's only adapted to a limited number of conditions, didn't have enough stimuli to adapt to many new ones, and is therefore limited to a specific territory, and might be very hard to find.

Let's see:
- Mars - hopes of favourable conditions and water (Sun and water) in the past, life could have migrated underground, or remained local to a specific area
- Europa, Ganymede and Callipso - the subsurface ocean is there, but it's probably relatively stale, no major energy influx that would kick-start life. Europa feels the strongest tidal forces, and probably has plate tectonics on all three of it surfaces, so there's biggest chance for hot vents that would trigger this. Our life would probably adapt to live there, but life's not that likely to start there. Still deserve checking, especially Europa.
- Titan - it has quite some energy influx, relative of course, but enough to trigger a complete weather cycle like the one on Earth; and it has abundance of chemical elements that could constitute an alternative biochemistry. We should make another trip there. With bigger probes. Alternative biochemistries are unlikely, but if they are possible, Titan is a place where it's very likely to find one of them.
- The gas giants - the conditions are turbulent enough to drive the processes to start life, but they are too erratic and unstable. Still, I wouldn't outright discount bacteria developing high in the atmosphere. We have such living on Earth, probably migrated from the surface, but the energy conditions on the gas giants are pretty damn good - I would check for life there. But than again, that would have been picked through spectral analysis... So it's very unlikely.
- Enceladus - that's the most likely spot for life other than the Earth. Liquid water, a lot of radioactive decay and tidal heating, and extremely active. It's the only place that has all the components and isn't a gas giant.

We should send landers (or ice drills) to all of those ASAP.

Last edited by YellowSubmarine; June 2 2011 at 06:01 PM.
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Old June 3 2011, 07:04 PM   #3
scotthm
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Re: Deepest multi-cellular organism found

YellowSubmarine wrote: View Post
We should send landers (or ice drills) to all of those ASAP.
Why? What's the imperative? Finding bacteria 800,000,000 miles away (if it's even there) won't affect the lives of most people in any meaningful way.

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Old June 4 2011, 07:30 AM   #4
YellowSubmarine
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Re: Deepest multi-cellular organism found

The speed of technological advancement isn't nearly as important as short term quarterly gains.
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Old June 5 2011, 07:03 AM   #5
John O.
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Re: Deepest multi-cellular organism found

There are older and fouler things than Godzilla in the deep places of the world...
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Old June 5 2011, 07:04 AM   #6
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Re: Deepest multi-cellular organism found

scotthm wrote: View Post
YellowSubmarine wrote: View Post
We should send landers (or ice drills) to all of those ASAP.
Why? What's the imperative? Finding bacteria 800,000,000 miles away (if it's even there) won't affect the lives of most people in any meaningful way.

---------------
2 words: asteroid mining.
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Old June 5 2011, 07:39 AM   #7
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Re: Deepest multi-cellular organism found

John O. wrote: View Post
2 words: asteroid mining.
What does asteroid mining have to do with a "need" for sending landers to Mars, Europa, Titan, or Enceladus?

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Old June 7 2011, 01:44 PM   #8
YellowSubmarine
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Re: Deepest multi-cellular organism found

scotthm wrote: View Post
What does asteroid mining have to do with a "need" for sending landers to Mars, Europa, Titan, or Enceladus?
Short-sightedness. People are too short-sighted to see the importance of learning about the place where we live, so we make up the concept of extra-terrestrial mining with supposed gains, hoping they would buy it and more missions get approved.

Last edited by YellowSubmarine; June 7 2011 at 02:00 PM.
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Old June 7 2011, 03:44 PM   #9
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Re: Deepest multi-cellular organism found

YellowSubmarine wrote: View Post
People are too short-sighted to see the importance of learning about the place where we live...
I have no problems with learning about the solar system, and in fact find it quite fascinating, but we don't live on Mars, Titan, Europa, or Enceladus.

I think some people are just desperate to find life somewhere other than on Earth, and I honestly think that if we knew for a fact that the rest of the solar system was lifeless such people couldn't care less about exploring it.

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Old June 7 2011, 05:34 PM   #10
YellowSubmarine
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Re: Deepest multi-cellular organism found

We don't live there now, but we might live there some day. On Mars at least. Who knows what the rest could be useful for.

But I'm not talking about that. The place where we live that I'm talking about is not the Solar System, but the Universe. The more we know about it, the better. And since we're unlikely to go travelling to other stars soon if ever, the best we could do is extrapolate from data gathered in our Solar System.

Whether there is life on those places and what kind of life it is has a significant impact on our understanding of life and of possibility of other sentient life in our Galaxy, which in turn might dictate our policy on extra-solar travel or communication attempts. It's one of those very tiny pieces of the huge puzzle, but it's still as important as the rest.

And let's not forget the goldmine it will be for some biologists. I'll skip the technological advances and testing driven by the launching of those probes as side-effects.
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Old June 7 2011, 07:14 PM   #11
scotthm
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Re: Deepest multi-cellular organism found

YellowSubmarine wrote: View Post
The place where we live that I'm talking about is not the Solar System, but the Universe. The more we know about it, the better.
I certainly don't disagree that it's good to understand and know our universe, but your priorities ("We should send landers (or ice drills) to all of those ASAP") seem to be focused on only one thing: finding life. That just seems way too narrow to me.

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Old June 7 2011, 07:35 PM   #12
YellowSubmarine
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Re: Deepest multi-cellular organism found

I did say that with the assumption that we should launch more probes in general and that we should go further in what the probes can do. For example, I'm extremely excited about the idea about ice drills on Europa since the day I read about it, not because of the life it might find, but because of the probe itself. I'm thinking about exploring that underground ocean of another world, about developing the technologies required to do it, about extending our ability to go to any place that exists. The same way I feel about robot probes floating in the air on the gas giants or Venus, or sailing in the lakes on Titan.

But those with life should have the priority, yeah.
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Old June 7 2011, 10:06 PM   #13
scotthm
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Re: Deepest multi-cellular organism found

YellowSubmarine wrote: View Post
I'm extremely excited about the idea about ice drills on Europa since the day I read about it, not because of the life it might find, but because of the probe itself. I'm thinking about exploring that underground ocean of another world, about developing the technologies required to do it
There are frozen lakes in Antarctica that would make better testing grounds for such technology, since they are here and not a billion miles away.

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Old June 7 2011, 10:38 PM   #14
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Re: Deepest multi-cellular organism found

I'm not talking about the technology to drill through the ice alone, but for the technology to control something so far away, with such huge time delay and small bandwidth, the technology to increase the bandwidth, the technology to drill for months unattended, an extraterrestrial submarine technology, etc... But yeah, all of those could be very useful here too, so their development is even more important. And since no ice on Earth is as thick, this might require much more technological developments that could be useful in many other areas as well.
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