The Loh Down On Science

Deep Microbes

How do you live forever? Be patient. And don't. Do. Anything.

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, and science's new-found secret about immortality … maybe.

Danish and German biologists recently extracted clay from beneath the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, near the equator. It had been there, undisturbed, for about 86-million years, which means it settled there when T. Rex was, you know, not extinct.

The clay contained communities of microbes that were alive--but just barely. There's not much oxygen or many nutrients in that deep gunk, and it's not like food gets delivered. So the germs had to make do.

Which they did! The scientists say these microbes, which may be hundreds or thousands of years old, live on the edge of life. They don't eat enough to reproduce or grow; they consume only enough to meet the lowest requirements of staying alive.

What's more, these slow living, nearly immortal critters may be the dominant life-form on Earth.

I’ve heard of people’s bosses being slimy, but this is ridiculous!

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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