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Sunday, April 04, 2010

How Bacteria from a Sneeze Lived on the Moon for 3 years - Life Beyond the Bubble

Photo: Apollo 12 (background). Astronaut pulling camera off surveyor...that had a surprise in it.

I was just watching a TV program on which Pete Conrad, Commander of the Apollo 12 mission, which deliberately landed on the moon near the site where the moon surveyor had landed nearly three years before. The idea was that the astronauts would cut a piece off the earlier lander to take back and test - to see what happened to something stuck on the hostile moon for years.

They cut off the surveyor's camera. When they brought it back to earth and disassembled it, they discovered that someone had sneezed into it during its construction. The bacteria from that earthly sneeze had been in the airless radiation on the moon's surface for 33 months - nearly 3 years.

Yet when the scientists put the bacteria in a Petri dish, they returned to life as if nothing had happened!

In the day, the temperature of the Moon averages 1070 C, although it rises as high as 1230 C (250o F). The night cools the surface to an average of -153o C, or -2330 C in the permanently shaded south polar basin. A typical non-polar minimum temperature is -1810 C (at the Apollo 15 site). That's over a 500 degree difference from day to night temperatures.

Yet -- despite these temperatures and living in a vacuum -- the bacteria that produce the 'common cold' survived when brought back to earth.

If the bacteria had died, then it would make life as we know it outside our planet seem difficult or impossible to survive deep space conditions. But since ordinary human bacteria lived in space for years without air or water, then it shows that life beyond Earth is entirely possible, lurking perhaps beneath the ice on Mars or Europa.

We seem to live in our own fishbowl, looking at only our town, our State or country. If we looked beyond our community fishbowl, we'd find that people are pretty much alike all over the world - most of them looking for a job, security and education for their kids. They are also focused pretty much on their own fishbowls.

Taliban teach hate because they have never been anywhere outside their bubble. Catholic church leaders remain detached from the secular world outside an insular institution. Lack of vision beyond the bubble usually leads to a poor vision of reality and that always leads to trouble.

But if we look beyond even our planet, a trip to the moon made long ago on Apollo 12 gave us solid proof and evidence that life can exist beyond our own earthly fishbowl.

We need to look beyond our bubbles, because only then do we see true reality. When I see our so-called experts with their radio shows, it amazes me how little they really know. I was lucky to get beyond the Midwest and Texas and did business in over 50 countries. You have no clue about the world and its reality until you have seen life in countless other places, and seen both the differences and similarities.

All of us need to get beyond our bubble worlds, because without it we aren't seeing reality. And if we don't live in reality that always leads to being blindsided by trouble...(remember Pearl Harbor, 9/11?)

After Apollo 12, if you don't think life can live beyond our Earth bubble, well, get prepared for another shock of reality.

Maybe that is what it will take to get humans to work together--finally.

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