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They don’t breathe in the sense that you and I do. In the most extreme cases, they don’t consume any conventional food, either. Instead, they power themselves in the most elemental way: by eating and breathing electricity. Nealson gestures at his lab. That’s what they are doing right there, right now.
“All the textbooks say it shouldn’t be possible,” he says, “but by golly, those things just keep growing on the electrode, and there’s no other source of energy there.” Growing on the electrode. It sounds incredible. Nealson pivots on his chair to face me and gives a mischievous grin. “It is kind of like science fiction,” he says. To a biologist, finding life that chugs along without a molecular energy source such as carbohydrates is about as unlikely as seeing passengers flying through the air without an airplane.
They are not just new to science; they require an entirely new method of collection and culture. The vast majority of Rowe’s strains must be grown on a cathode, not in a petri dish. And they indicate an immense and largely alien ecosystem here on Earth. The National Science Foundation calls it the “dark energy biosphere” and is funding Rowe to learn more about this parallel microbial universe.
In some ways, getting to Mars is a cakewalk compared to the challenge of knowing what to search for once you arrive....That’s what Nealson’s team grappled with at JPL. “Could you really figure out what the universal properties of any life must be? It’s very hard to solve this problem, because we can’t get away from our own biases,” he says.
In 1982, he was a professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography when he heard about strange goings-on in Oneida Lake in upstate New York. Each spring, snowmelt washes manganese out of the surrounding mountains and into the lake. Winds then whip up the waters, allowing the dissolved metal to combine efficiently with oxygen to form solid manganese oxide, which sinks to the lake bed. The trouble was, scientists didn’t find nearly as much as they anticipated. Something was making the manganese oxide vanish, at more than 1,000 times the geologically expected rate, and nobody could figure out what.
originally posted by: Tardacus
My first thought is where did they come from?
something doesn`t seem right about this story.
They need electricity to survive so they weren`t on earth 200 years ago when we had no electricity,so how did they get here?
If they came here from space then they had to have hitched on ride on something that was producing electricity,something that traveled through space and entered our atmosphere.
either these things don`t really eat and breath electricity or they are alien life forms.