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No. 11: Summer 1980

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A flurry of papers and at least one TV documentary have widely promulgated the news that many life forms thrive near the thermal vents 2,550 meters under the sea along the Galapagos Rift. Mollusks, worms, crabs, and other forms of life make up a successful biological community where light never penetrates. Terrestrial heat rather than the sun keeps this life going. The geothermal heat reduces sulfur compounds emitted from the vents and chemosynthesis proceeds up the biological ladder without need for sunlight.

(Karl, D.M., et al; "Deep-Sea Primary Production at the Galapagos Hydrothermal Vents," Science, 207:1345, 1980.)

Comment. The implications are far-reaching. Does life exist at great depths in the earth and beneath the apparently lifeless surfaces of the other planets? Photosynthetically sustained life may represent only a small slice of the biological pie. Was sunlight necessary for life to originate and evolve -- assuming it did each?

From Science Frontiers #11, Summer 1980. 1980-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987