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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    28,606

    Desert varnish.... or "weird life"? Scientists posit shadow biosphere

    Lengthy. Interesting. From Observer/Guardian:

    Life on Earth… but not as we know it
    Never mind aliens in outer space. Some scientists believe we may be sharing the
    planet with 'weird' lifeforms that are so different from our own they're invisible to us

    Across the world's great deserts, a mysterious sheen has been found on boulders and rock faces. These layers of manganese, arsenic and silica are known as desert varnish and they are found in the Atacama desert in Chile, the Mojave desert in California, and in many other arid places. They can make the desert glitter with surprising colour and, by scraping off pieces of varnish, native people have created intriguing symbols and images on rock walls and surfaces.

    How desert varnish forms has yet to be resolved, despite intense research by geologists. Most theories suggest it is produced by chemical reactions that act over thousands of years or by ecological processes yet to be determined.

    Professor Carol Cleland, of Colorado University, has a very different suggestion. She believes desert varnish could be the manifestation of an alternative, invisible biological world. Cleland, a philosopher based at the university's astrobiology centre, calls this ethereal dimension the shadow biosphere. "The idea is straightforward," she says. "On Earth we may be co-inhabiting with microbial lifeforms that have a completely different biochemistry from the one shared by life as we currently know it."
    ---
    much more at the link

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    MD 'burbs of Washington DC
    Posts
    5,902
    Thanks for posting... it has prompted me to go through my old Valley of Fire images to see if I caught any of it (desert varnish) on camera.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    MD 'burbs of Washington DC
    Posts
    5,902
    Wow, that stuff is all over the rocks within the Valley of Fire park... when I pulled open my RAW files I instantly spied it! This has really, really piqued my interest.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Dumpwater, Arkansas..LOL
    Posts
    5,338

    Smile

    Interesting stuff, thanks for posting the link Woofie!
    "If at first you don't succeed, skydiving isn't for you!"

    The above post is my opinion and my opinion only. Please do not copy and past to other forums.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    North
    Posts
    5,964
    Awesome! It is beautiful and intriguing!
    JMO



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