Saturday, February 2, 2013
SUMMARY: A fascinating introduction to the weirdest life-forms known to science—and the maverick scientists who search for them.
In recent years, scientists at the frontiers of biology have hypothesized the existence of life-forms that can only be called “weird”: organisms that live off acid rather than water, microbes that thrive at temperatures and pressure levels so extreme that their cellular structures should break down, perhaps even organisms that reproduce without DNA. The search for these strange life-forms spans the universe, from rock surfaces in the American southwest and hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor to Martian permafrost, the ammonia oceans of Jupiter’s moons, the hydrogen-rich atmospheres of giant planets, the exotic ices on comets, the crusts of neutron stars, and the vast reaches of space itself.
David Toomey brings us into the world of the researchers who have devoted their careers to “weird life,” and as they envision and discover ever stranger organisms here on earth, they open up fascinating possibilities for the discovery of life in the rest of the universe.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in extremophiles and/or exobiology.