pickens writes "In recent years scientists have begun to view the existence of life outside of our solar system as ever-more likely. If life does emerge readily under terrestrial conditions, then perhaps it formed many times on our home planet. To pursue this tantalizing possibility, scientists have begun searching deserts, lakes and caverns for evidence of earth-bound 'alien' life-forms, organisms that would differ fundamentally from all known living creatures because they arose independently. Microbes have already been found inhabiting extreme environments ranging from scalding volcanic vents to the dry valleys of Antarctica. Other so-called extremophiles can survive in salt-saturated lakes, highly acidic mine tailings contaminated with metals, and the waste pools of nuclear reactors. Although 'alien' microbes might look like ordinary bacteria, their biochemistry could involve exotic amino acids or different elemental building blocks so researchers are devising tests to identify exotic microbes. If shadow life is confined to the microbial realm, it is entirely possible that scientists have overlooked it."
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