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Thermosynthesis implications for exobiology

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LURCH
#1
May10-03, 12:42 PM
Sci Advisor
P: 2,510
Sometime ago, life was discovered on the ocean floor, where no life was supposed to exist. No life was supposed to exist there because photosynthesis was considered impossible at those depths. However, ecosystems built around thermal vents at the bottom of the ocean are not based on photosynthesis, but rather chemosynthesis. Life energy is extracted from chemicals spewed out by the vents.

As soon as this discovery was made, I began to wonder why chemicals were used as the foundation of life in these ecosystems. My reasoning was that "EM is EM", and the thermal vents are, well, thermal. So, if life on the surface receives it energy for living from electromagnetic radiation into wavelengths that are most abundantly available in an environment (the visible wavelength, mostly), why don't organisms around thermal vents take in electromagnetic energy in the thermal wavelengths to power their life functions (thermosynthesis)?

It has now been discovered that they do!

I consider this a very exciting development. It seems to open up a whole new realm of possibilities. Though they have not yet been discovered, it seems almost certain that an organism feeding directly off any form of EM radiation should be at the base of a food chain and must, almost certainly, have predators that feed on it.

This could also has serious implications for exobiology. A star that emits most of its radiation into radio wave frequency could support metallic plants that function like radio antennas, etc.

Comments, anyone?
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FZ+
#2
May10-03, 04:34 PM
FZ+'s Avatar
P: 1,954
Wow... that really is incredible... How much energy is available from photons of such energy anyways? However, I have a suspicion that radio-emitting stars (a) do not last long enough and (b) do not give out enough energy to base an ecosystem on. But, what do I know...?


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