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Sci Rep. 2013;3:2198. doi: 10.1038/srep02198.

Extreme alien light allows survival of terrestrial bacteria.

Author information

1
Physics Department, University of Miami, Florida, FL 33126, USA. njohnson@physics.miami.edu

Abstract

Photosynthetic organisms provide a crucial coupling between the Sun's energy and metabolic processes supporting life on Earth. Searches for extraterrestrial life focus on seeking planets with similar incident light intensities and environments. However the impact of abnormal photon arrival times has not been considered. Here we present the counterintuitive result that broad classes of extreme alien light could support terrestrial bacterial life whereas sources more similar to our Sun might not. Our detailed microscopic model uses state-of-the-art empirical inputs including Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) images. It predicts a highly nonlinear survivability for the basic lifeform Rsp. Photometricum whereby toxic photon feeds get converted into a benign metabolic energy supply by an interplay between the membrane's spatial structure and temporal excitation processes. More generally, our work suggests a new handle for manipulating terrestrial photosynthesis using currently-available extreme value statistics photon sources.

PMID:
23852157
PMCID:
PMC3711049
DOI:
10.1038/srep02198
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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