Thursday, June 28, 2012

Survival on the Fringe

Pompeii Worm


 Did you know that scientists have found micro-organisms that can survive and even thrive under extreme conditions of heat, pressure, radiation, salt and yes, even high acid concentrations. These organisms represent a new biological category that was discovered only 40 years ago. The new term for such organisms is ‘extremophiles’ (philo is the Greek word for ‘love of’). At first, bacteria were discovered thriving at temperatures of 50oC in the hot mineral pools of Yellowstone National Park. Today, scientists like Karl Setter have identified organisms that thrive at temperatures of 100oC. Numerous organisms have been found near volcanic vents at the bottom of the ocean, where there is no oxygen or light.

What is even more amazing is that scientists have found life at 1.6 kilometers below the ocean floor. Similar discoveries have found organisms that can survive high acid concentrations or so called ‘radioduran’,  that can survive 1000 times the level of radiation that would kill a human!

This new science of extremophiles has now identified acidophiles (acid lovers), halophiles (salt lovers), piezophiles (pressure lovers) xerophiles (dryness lovers) and many others. The science of extremophiles is still in the research stage but one can see its enormous potential for mankind, especially for the pharmaceutical industry.

Once again we see God’s wonders in creating life freely and abundantly, in all its forms, anywhere in the world, and under probable and improbable conditions, to teach us of his boundless creativity and ingenuity. Psalm 104:24,25 declares: “How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number – living things both large and small.”

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