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Q & A Underground Biology

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  • Q & A Underground Biology

    Q & A
    Underground Biology
    By C. CLAIBORNE RAY

    Published: March 30, 2004
    TIMES NEWS TRACKER
    Topics
    Alerts
    Biology and Biochemistry
    Science and Technology
    Books and Literature



    A "hard" science fiction book (that is, one that makes scientific speculations that are as plausible as possible) states as fact that the total volume of living things contained in fissures and cracks in deep rock is larger than the biomass on the surface of the earth. Could this possibly be true?

    A. "There is no real answer," said Dr. John Baross, a biologist at the University of Washington who studies microbes that live at very high temperatures in the ocean, "but there is data indicating that the subsurface probably has as many prokaryotic cells, meaning microbial-type cells, as we find on the surface of earth."

    "There is one paper suggesting that the subsurface represents 90 to 94 percent of all prokaryotic cells on earth," Dr. Baross said, "and the proportion might grow as we learn more about microbial communities, particularly in the ocean crust."

    In terms of total biomass, however, the situation is different, he said. Early estimates suggested more hidden or dark biomass than surface biomass, "but these estimates were based on a lot of assumptions about pore space and the temperatures at which it is possible for life to exist, and we just don't know that," Dr. Baross said.

    "The bottom line is, there is a lot of biomass, most of it unknown, and at least in terms of microbial biomass, the hidden biomass is a significant proportion of the total," Dr. Baross said.
    \"No, I think Space is a dimension of Time. My theory is that Time is a field and that Space exists as an aspect of Time.\" Michael Moorcock

    \"All I know about anything is \"I wasn\'t. I am. I will not be.\" Michael Moorcock

  • #2
    It seems to be comparable to a doughnut hole....Quite interesting.

    Comment


    • #3
      The world's largest organism is a fungus ring somewhere in Michigan--a giant faery ring many tens of miles in diameter, or so I have read. Rather than working I should be attempting to communicate with it, but I'm all hung up by this rent thing.

      Meanwhile, anyone hear that methane gas was recently discovered in the Martian atmosphere? One explanation is underground Martian biomass.

      Comment


      • #4
        Fascinating idea. I've thought about "microverses" a lot, but never considered this aspect. Thanks for the brainfood, MJR.
        "Wounds are all I'm made of. Did I hear you say that this is victory?"
        --Michael Moorcock, Veteran of the Psychic Wars

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        • #5
          I support Carter's post.
          One of my biology professors mentioned
          the fungus. It's only semi-interesting to me
          though. However, If I saw a mushroom, smiled,
          and in turn it opened up and said "Greetings!"
          Then the fungus thing would be a really big deal!!!
          \"Bush\'s army of barmy bigots is the worst thing that\'s happened to the US in some years...\"
          Michael Moorcock - 3am Magazine Interview

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          • #6
            "Meanwhile, anyone hear that methane gas was recently discovered in the Martian atmosphere? One explanation is underground Martian biomass."

            So what you are saying is the very practice that my wife calls me disgusting for is going to be the first real indicator of life on another planet? Then there is some justice in the world.... :o

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Bill
              "Meanwhile, anyone hear that methane gas was recently discovered in the Martian atmosphere? One explanation is underground Martian biomass."

              So what you are saying is the very practice that my wife calls me disgusting for is going to be the first real indicator of life on another planet? Then there is some justice in the world.... :o
              Farting martians? I think i met one the otherday at work. He farted for what seemed like a whole minute. I couldn't help laughing my ass off!:)
              And he frequently does this during the whole day too!
              Both scary and smelly!

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