Beneath your feet lies an enormous subterranean biosphere of bacteria and other forms of life, surviving in spite of the absence of light, limited nutrients, extreme pressure and intense heat.
The organisms that live beneath the Earth’s crust are unlike anything we know on the surface. Some can withstand extreme environments. Others exist in a kind of stasis, with their lifespan stretching to geological timescales.
These discoveries come from an international collaboration of scientists at the Deep Carbon Observatory [https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/dec/10/tread-softly-because-you-tread-on-23bn-tonnes-of-micro-organisms]. The group is nearing the end of a 10-year survey of this vast underground world.
To develop a model of the subterranean biosphere, the team collected samples from boreholes drilled more than 5 kilometers beneath the Earth’s surface and at undersea drilling sites.
Organisms have been found as deep as 5 kilometers beneath the land and 2.5 kilometers beneath the ocean floor. Scientists estimate that the deep biosphere contains between 15 billion and 23 billion tonnes of microorganisms.
This includes organisms from all three domains of life—bacteria and archaea, both microbes with no membrane-bound nucleus; and eukarya, microbes and multicellular organisms with a membrane nucleus and other cellular structures. The bacteria and archaea dominate in this realm, accounting for 70 percent of the bacteria and archaea on and inside the Earth.
The deep biosphere is also much more genetically diverse than the biosphere above the surface. This includes very hardy creatures, such as a single-celled organism that lives in hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor — thriving at 121 degrees Celsius. There is also an organism that creates methane without the benefit of energy from the sun.
Scientists think that certain deep organisms use most of their energy simply to survive, rather than growing and reproducing. Some also have incredibly long lives. Because there are few nutrients and energy sources deep in the Earth, these microbes live in a kind of metabolic stasis, with their lives stretching thousands of years.
The findings are made possible by advances in drilling technologies, as well as more accurate and inexpensive DNA sequencing. Scientists are working toward drilling even deeper, using pressurized devices that can preserve the deep organisms brought to the surface.
These discoveries are just the beginning, with many questions remaining: Does deep life spread up, down, or laterally through cracks? How can organisms in different parts of the deep Earth be so similar? Did life start deep in the Earth and migrate toward the surface or the other way around?
Scientists also hope to find out whether deep Earth organisms, in spite of living in isolated and energetically impoverished locations, can impact the global biogeochemical cycles. If so, they may affect life on the surface, making the entire Earth, inside and out, one global biosphere.
Even with its explanatory power, Big Bang theory takes its place in a long line of myths.
Chris Fields suggests we abandon both the question "why this universe?" and the entire subsequent story about emergence
Susana Martinez-Conde gives her understanding of perception, brains, reality, memory, experience, music, aesthetics, and language from her experience as Laboratory Director of SUNY Downstate Medical Center
Vikram Zutshi In Conversation With Evan Thompson This article was first published at the Sutra Journal…
Dr. Long has investigated thousands of near-death experiences (NDEs) with the results of his research published in the New York Times bestselling book Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences.
Every creature lives within its own sensory bubble, but only humans have the capacity to appreciate the experiences of other species. What we’ve learned is astounding.
New research with MDMA could lead to deeper therapeutic uses of the drug
Comparing the foundational base of Blackfoot knowledge to quantum physics to an attentive audience at The Banff Centre as part of the Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science: Contrasts and Similarities event.
How NASA's Webb Telescope Gives Humanity a Revolutionary New View of Cosmos
Visual illusions are those perceptual experiences that do not match the physical reality.
Maybe the brain isn't "classical" after all.
How does our biology give rise to the experience of consciousness?
A well-documented feature of trauma, one familiar to many, is our inability to articulate what happens to us.
“Definitely these galaxies are a big deal, but it remains to be seen how exciting they will look in the context of a few months’ progress with JWST,” Carnall says. The best is yet to come.
The connections between Quantum Physics, Daoism, and Nonduality in this interview with the Italian physicist
An exploration of a groundbreaking assertion of a new paper published in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
In our common experience, you can't get something for nothing. In the quantum realm, something really can emerge from nothing.
explore psychedelics and their therapeutic uses in two entertaining and informative talks from SAND 18 and 19
Listening to/with/as the whole planet is listening and sining, a conversation with world renoun bioacoustic researcher
For many people, psychedelic drugs are intimately connected to the 1960s American counterculture, with…
Donald Hoffman describes his mathematical theory that ties in with consciousness touching into neuroscience, computer science, perception, and how we construct reality.
Excerpts from Advaya: the role of mythology, stories, art, and poetry in cultivating kinship. How do stories create/relate to belonging?
Perception may be defined not only as how we experience the world through our senses, but also how we interpret those experiences to create meaning and provide a practically useful model of reality.
The meaning of death and dying in a death-phobic culture and more on Sounds of SAND Episode 2
This groundbreaking book is an invitation to the public, to citizen scientists, and to professional scientists to reject the materialistic worldview of modern science
Inspired by Yuval Noah Harari' is an experimental short film featuring over 260 strange and spectacular images, generated by 13 different A.I. algorithms.
Please enter your email and we’ll send you instructions to reset your password