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Electric Bacteria That Live On Pure Energy

Would you believe that there are bacteria that live on electricity alone? No sugar, no nutrients.


(Electric Bacteria That Live On Pure Energy)

Unlike any other living thing on Earth, electric bacteria use energy in its purest form – naked electricity in the shape of electrons harvested from rocks and metals. We already knew about two types, Shewanella and Geobacter. Now, biologists are showing that they can entice many more out of rocks and marine mud by tempting them with a bit of electrical juice. Experiments growing bacteria on battery electrodes demonstrate that these novel, mind-boggling forms of life are essentially eating and excreting electricity.

The discovery of electric bacteria shows that some very basic forms of life can do away with sugary middlemen and handle the energy in its purest form – electrons, harvested from the surface of minerals. "It is truly foreign, you know," says Nealson. "In a sense, alien."

Alien. In a sense.

In his excellent 1945 short story The Waveries, Fredric Brown describes an invasion from outer space. The waveries were alien life forms that were attracted to radio waves; they followed radio and TV broadcasts back to Earth.

"George, I think the waveries were your best friends."
"Waveries?"
"Lord, how long does it take slang to get from New York out to the sticks? The vaders. of course . Some professor who specializes in studying them described one as a wavery place in the ether, and 'wavery' stuck..."
"Yep, the Research Bureau checks daily. Try to get up current with a little generator run by a steam turbine. But no dice; the vaders suck it up as fast as it's generated."
"Suppose they'll ever go away?"
Mulvaney shrugged. "Helmetz thinks not. He thinks they propagate in proportion to the available electricity. Even if the development of radio broadcasting somewhere else in the Universe would attract them there, some would stay here-and multiply like flies the minute we tried to use electricity again. And meanwhile, they'll live on the static electricity in the air."

Via Newscientist.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/13/2014)

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