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Biotech Earth Science

Bacteria Found Alive In Ice 120,000 Years Old 326

Posted by kdawson
from the by-some-definitions-of-alive dept.
FiReaNGeL notes research presented this morning at Penn State on the discovery of a new, ultra-small species of bacteria that has survived for more than 120,000 years within the ice of a Greenland glacier at a depth of nearly two miles. From the psu.edu announcement: "The microorganism's ability to persist in this low-temperature, high-pressure, reduced-oxygen, and nutrient-poor habitat makes it particularly useful for studying how life, in general, can survive in a variety of extreme environments on Earth and possibly elsewhere in the solar system. This new species is among the ubiquitous, yet mysterious, ultra-small bacteria, which are so tiny that they are able to pass through microbiological filters. Called Chryseobacterium greenlandensis, the species is related genetically to certain bacteria found in fish, marine mud, and the roots of some plants."
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Bacteria Found Alive In Ice 120,000 Years Old

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  • by genner (694963) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @04:17PM (#23643905)
    Have another reason to point and laugh.
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @04:55PM (#23644427) Homepage Journal
    No, and that's not what he is saying.
    He is saying it's another piece of scientific evidence that shows that then literal translation of the most recent translation of the Bible is wrong.

    Of course anyone who actually studied the bible and it's actual history knows its a parable.

    FYI it's a very tiny number of believers that think the creation is literal.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @04:59PM (#23644473)
    You're not supposed to believe in science. That's the point; repeatability and maintaining a healthy scepticism.
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @05:00PM (#23644475) Homepage Journal
    "Newsflash: some people don't believe in science. Get over it."

    I have never seen anyone so succinctly indicated there lack of understanding what science is.

    Newsflash: It doesn't require belief.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @05:01PM (#23644487)
    About 1/3 of the U.S. public debt?
  • by Idiomatick (976696) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @05:07PM (#23644565)
    Well that certainly is convenient. I wonder why the bible has so many specific dates if its not literal. Anyways if you read any book that was filled with non-literal stories why would you believe any of it. Thats the exact same as trusting a known liar. If creation is just a metaphor then so is god, jesus and everything else in the bible. Either believe it all or none of it. I hate pick and choose believers. Too cowardly to abandon an ancient book yet too sensible to believe it.
     
      I'm sure i'll get modded down for bashing the religious folk. Before you do, re-read it and pretend i was talking about a religion you don't like such as satanism or .... wicca.
  • by RanCossack (1138431) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @05:12PM (#23644637)
    I've yet to hear a proof that there is no God that would not serve equally well to prove there is no DM when used in-character in D&D.
  • This to me sounds strangely like religion. Somewhere along the line you have to place trust or belief in something. Nothing is empirical when you're trusting an "authority" on a subject.

    The difference is that I can interrogate a scientist and demand his evidence for his beliefs, then draw my own conclusions. When God allows me to interrogate him to prove his existence, then God will be on the same level of trust as scientists.

  • by taylortbb (759869) * <taylor.byrnes@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @06:07PM (#23645215) Homepage
    I don't think the GP was saying they don't believe in science, hence their claim "there are no YEC's on slashdot." The GP was merely pointing out that some people lack faith in the scientific method.

    You say science doesn't require faith, but it does require a small bit, a belief that past trends are indicative future events. I personally consider this to be a simple obvious truth, and therefore I personally have complete faith in the scientific method. For some reason however not all people share my belief in the scientific method. The rest of the world can ridicule them and laugh at them, but so called "flat earthers" do exist, whether they should or not.
  • by taylortbb (759869) * <taylor.byrnes@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @06:11PM (#23645257) Homepage
    The thing is it's 31% of Americans. This isn't an anti-US flame, but the truth is the numbers are different in other countries. I would personally expect them to be much lower based on my observations from living in another country, though I readily admit I have no evidence to back this up.

    As an aside, not that statistics actually matter. There are too many ways to bias that final number, and I doubt anyone here would take the time to fully research a poll's methodology.
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @06:16PM (#23645311) Homepage
    Well that certainly is convenient. I wonder why the bible has so many specific dates if its not literal. Anyways if you read any book that was filled with non-literal stories why would you believe any of it. Thats the exact same as trusting a known liar. If creation is just a metaphor then so is god, jesus and everything else in the bible. Either believe it all or none of it. I hate pick and choose believers. Too cowardly to abandon an ancient book yet too sensible to believe it.

    Yeah, after all, why would you want to spend the time trying to understand the meaning, when you can just make a binary "all myth" or "all fact" choice that completely ignores all the nuance? I mean, it's not like the text itself could possibly contain any hints as to which is which! It's a-priori all or nothing!

    I hate people who try to tell others how they should believe in a religion that they themselves don't even believe in or understand. Guess what? You don't get to decide what someone believes. You don't get to call something "picking and choosing" just because you don't grasp the concept that somebody read the book and understood parts of it to be allegory, parts of it literal. You don't get to decide that it is impossible for something to contain both the literal and the figurative, in this case because that's idiotic.

    I'm sure i'll get modded down for bashing the religious folk. Before you do, re-read it and pretend i was talking about a religion you don't like such as satanism or .... wicca.

    Okay. Stop telling Wiccans what is a valid way to view and practice their religion, you ignorant bigot.
  • Re:so in some way (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pfhorrest (545131) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @07:33PM (#23646059) Homepage Journal

    the bacteria "knew" the ice was gonna start melting some day?

    if it didn't then what's the purpose of staying "alive" for 120000 years?
    Evolution is not teleological (which means "purposive" or "goal-oriented"). This bacterium happened to be able to survive long periods in the freezing cold due to some mutation or another. This would be a big evolutionary advantage because it could then live and reproduce in areas where most other things cannot.

    Some of these bacteria got frozen for 120,000 years. They weren't waiting for it to thaw out; they're just out there living in the cold regions where nothing else can live, and sticking it out even when it gets too cold for them.

    Analogously, imagine that there is some primitive tribe of humans with no knowledge of climatology, currently living in tropical or desert climes who, unbeknown to anyone, have a mutation which allows them to survive in hibernation in freezing cold temperatures, and then reawaken when it warms up again. They did not evolve this because they needed to survive freezing cold temperatures, they just have a genetic adaptation which is not disadvantageous, and might even correlate with some other adaptation which is advantageous. And because they live in warm climes, nobody knows they have this mutation.

    Then say someday we enter another great ice age, so cold that everybody on Earth dies out, except this tribe, who barely manages to live on for thousands of years, frozen in the ice, due to their mutation. And then eventually the ice age ends and the world gets nice and warm, these people thaw out and start living their lives again.

    Now imagine we're aliens watching this future Earth thaw out. We might ask, did these people know that an ice age was coming? No... they've probably never even heard of ice. So they certainly didn't know that the ice age they never expected was going to end eventually. So what's the purpose of them having this mutation that allowed them to stay "alive" frozen in the ice for thousands of years? The answer is that there was none; they didn't mean to have the mutation, and nobody meant for them to have the mutation, they just had it by chance, and as chance would have it it came in really handy when the whole world froze over and everybody but them died out, which is why they're still around for us to wonder about.

    Or in short: They didn't get the mutation so that they could survive. They survived because they had the mutation.
  • This is pathetic (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @08:19PM (#23646393)
    An article about science and under it 150 comments,2 of which contain good jokes, 89 containing lame jokes, 40 comments on irrelevant topics and 20 criticizing my addition skills. Not one word about the article.

    And yeah, I'm an AC, so what?
  • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @11:39PM (#23647643)

    I'm sure i'll get modded down for bashing the religious folk.
    You must be new here.
  • Re:so in some way (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 0111 1110 (518466) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @11:52PM (#23647715)

    While evolution isn't, life is. It seems there are two purposes in every form of life:
    1) Spread your genetic material
    2) Don't die.
    Someone is watching too much porn. I think you have those in the wrong order. I am alive and have no interest in either of those goals. But especially not #1. In fact just the opposite. I would much rather die than spread any of my genetic material.
  • by RockDoctor (15477) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @07:58AM (#23650393) Journal

    To pass through a microbiological filter, how did they find it?
    Most likely they were examining part of the core and they "slabbed" it for ease of handling and recording. Core comes out of the ground as cylinders, so all faces are curved, and that makes it hard to examine, measure and photograph (looking for dust bands, flow lines etc). So SOP is to cut the core along a chord (leaving two unequal segments) and then to cut the larger segment into two equal halves. Typically (for rock cores, in the oil industry), one of the large segments goes to each partner in the project and the small initial segment goes to the government ; in this case I'd expect one large segment to go straight back to the core store for any necessary replications in the future, while the other large segment and the small one are taken off for whatever your experiment is.

    These two cuts will generate significant waste rock or ice. If I were doing this, with normal 1m-long core sections, I'd clean off the saw and table after each section (giving ice shavings in 1m-long bags), then melt each bag separately and "plate" each bag separately. "Plating" is the taking of an innoculum at (various) dilutions into (various different nutrients) petri dishes and/ or culture bottles and incubating. You'd also check the "blank" regularly - plating your dilution saline, etc. It sounds like they plated both the raw melted ice AND melted ice that had been put through a microbial filter and got the same results from both.

    Obviously their experimental protocol had been designed to include microbiological sampling, so one can assume that clean-room techniques were in operation further up the material-handling pipeline.

  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... minus physicist> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @01:43PM (#23656631) Journal
    In another universe God set up, froodling is a deadly sin. In this universe, it is impossible to froodle. In both universes, free will exists. If you accept the possibility of this premise, then you must accept the possibility that God could have set up a universe where free exists, but sin is impossible.

    Just be thankful we don't live in the universe where every possible action is a sin.

    As to your point about free will and proof, I simply don't understand how you can say that proof and free will are mutually exclusive. Are you saying that proof in mathematics doesn't exist, or that free will doesn't?

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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