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No. 43: Jan-Feb 1986

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Life Seeks Out Energy Sources Wherever They May Be

Life is opportunistic; it siphons off energy wherever it can find it. That life utilizes solar energy we all know. And, of course, humans have tapped the atom for energy. In just the past few years, remarkable colonies of life forms have been discovered congregated around deep-sea hydrothermal vents where sunlight is essentially nonexistent. Still more recently, similar life forms have been found clustered around oil seeps in the Gulf of Mexico. As at the hydro-thermal vents, the clams, worms, crabs, and other organisms depend mainly upon the ability of bacteria to chemosynthesize -- the primary energy source being hydrogen sulfide in the vented water.

(Paull, C.K., et al; "Stable Isotope Evidence for Chemosynthesis in an Abyssal Seep Community," Nature, 317:709, 1985; Also: Weisburd, S.; "Clams and Worms Fueled by Gas?" Science News, 128:231, 1985.)

Comment. Since the earth's crust seems honeycombed with fissures and rivers of life-sustaining fluids, subterranean life may be as common as the abyssal chemosynthetic life at the vents and seeps. This versatility of life signals us that we should look for life wherever there is energy of any kind.

From Science Frontiers #43, JAN-FEB 1986. 1986-2000 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