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Radiosynthesis - living on radioactive decay energy

Here's a nice article about Earth's subsurface ecology - surprisingly large and robust for an environment with very little available energy.

Turns out that a bunch of it is apparently living on the products of radioactive decay.  Something decays, knocks a water molecule apart splitting off a hydrogen atom and then an HO which quickly binds to something forming various radicals and peroxides. 

And some cells use the Hydrogen as fuel, and some cells use the radicals to break down normally-inaccessible sources, and some use the peroxides, eventually breaking them down at slightly less energy cost than the yield from the Hydrogen & Oxygen they liberate from it.

So this vast subterranean ecology lumbers very slowly onward into eternity, using an energy source it's almost impossible for any surface event to destroy or limit.  No matter what happened to surface life, whenever it becmes possible for there to *be* surface life there will be living cells down there to cough up a new generation of one-celled surface organisms and recolonize the planet starting from zero.

Of course, there ain't no redux in another couple billion years when the sun starts to eat the place, but  this is how life laughs at our silly worries that we might wipe it out.  If pressed, we could alter the climate and ecology to be no longer compatible with *US* living here, but life, in general, has nothing to fear as long as this planet exists.

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Radiosynthesis - living on radioactive decay energy - by Bear - 05-25-2021, 03:22 AM

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