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Alien Infection
Topic: Extreme Life
As we look toward exploring other worlds, and perhaps even bringing samples back to Earth for testing, astrobiologists have to wonder: could there be alien pathogens in those samples that will wreak havoc on our world?

Cave Slime
Topic: Extreme Life
Caves - some pitch black, some with poisonous atmospheres - teem with microbes that rot rock and make unique crystals and chemicals. Cave-microbe researchers hope to gain insight from these unusual microscopic creatures about what life signs to search for in extraterrestrial environments.

Photosynthesis in the Abyss
Topic: Extreme Life
In 1977, scientists discovered thriving communities surrounding deep-sea hydrothermal vents, an environment seemingly without light. The 1989 discovery of an eyeless vent-dwelling shrimp with a novel light detector hinted at some kind of light coming from the vents.

Extreme Lifeforms: Nothing to Sneeze At
Topic: Extreme Life
With more than 3500 viruses classified, a great mystery still remains as to whether they are alive at all. For examples like polio and rhinovirus, they present the only known examples of self-replication without using DNA for code storage.

Small World
Topic: Extreme Life
A discovery from the early 1990s continues to be controversial today. Are the tiny, mineralized particles called nanobacteria the world's smallest organisms or mere crystal growth? Skeptics remain unconvinced that nanobacteria are alive, but nanobacteria researchers say evidence in their favor is mounting.

Jailhouse Rock
Topic: Extreme Life
The birthplace of life on Earth remains a controversial topic. A new hypothesis suggests that life originated in iron sulfide deposits at hydrothermal vents. These metal cells may have held the prebiotic chemicals of life captive.

The Driest Place on Earth
Topic: Extreme Life
How much water does life need to survive? Chile's Atacama desert hold some interesting clues - clues that may help researchers in the hunt for life on Mars.

Minimalist Life
Topic: Extreme Life
Microbiologist Karl Stetter travels the world hunting game, small game. In May, he revealed the discovery of a new archaean, at 400 nanometers so small it rides the surface of another merely normally small archaean.

Surviving the Final Frontier
Topic: Extreme Life
Could life on Earth have spread to other planets? Or the other way around? An idea nearly 140 years old is resurfacing in a new form: microbes surviving space travel inside meteorites. Shielded from the intense radiation of the sun, dried out microbes could survive and sprout on a new world.

Stuck in the Muck
Topic: Extreme Life
Deep beneath the ocean floor, microorganisms by the billions survive - but just barely. Measurements of the rate at which they carry out life's chemical reactions show that perhaps as few as one in a million is active.
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