Tapping the Ancient Waters of Vostok

If you’re a biology watcher like I am, watch this: (from Scientific American)

Thermophiles produce some of the bright colors...
Extremophiles in hot spring ~ Image via Wikipedia

Russian scientists, who have patiently suffered the most brutal temperatures on the planet, will soon reach their payoff–the “roof” of a massive underground freshwater lake left undisturbed for perhaps 20 million years.

The risk seems great to me that we might infect or poison the patient in the process of exploratory surgery. But we could also discover dozens or hundreds of new “extremophile” organisms that evolved their own way of doing biology on Planet Earth.

So be prepared fairly soon for what promises to be a ongoing stream of science news from the worst place on earth to do science–and yet, we must. We are a most unusual organism ourselves, and the only one capable of modifying our living conditions–for survival and sustainability, or towards depletion, contamination and extinction.


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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Fred, I think it was Monday that Fox News announced the team had reached their objective and were heading back to base camp until the forthcoming summer.