It’s The Water – And A Lot More

hi-852-water2-2I’ve seen so many advertisements for a brand of bottled spring water which owes its purity to having percolated through underground mountain reservoirs since the last Ice Age that I couldn’t believe an announcement about scientists finding billion-year-old water came with the warning: “Don’t drink it.” 

Canadian and British scientists say water found 2.4 kilometers below the surface in a northern Ontario copper and zinc mine has been trapped there for 1.5 billion to 2.64 billion years. It is rich in dissolved gases such as hydrogen and methane that could theoretically provide support for microbial life.

Microbes that have been isolated for tens of millions of years have been found in water with similar chemistry at even slightly deeper depths below the surface in a South African gold mine, using hydrogen gas as an energy source, the researchers noted.

Doubtless the stuff would have given Tyrannosaurus Rex the runs if he could have reached it.

The age of water is measured by an analysis of the xenon gas dissolved in it. Like many other elements, xenon comes in forms with different masses, known as isotopes. The water in the Ontario mine contained an unusually high level of lighter isotopes of xenon that are thought to have come from the Earth’s atmosphere at the time it became trapped.

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One thought on “It’s The Water – And A Lot More

  1. Scientists are so desperate to find life on other planets that they seize at any straw. If you found mold growing in the bottom of an old bottle, it would be given as a reason to think life could exit in a shady corner of a crater at the north pole of Mercury, or under ten miles of ice on Titan. Well … maybe it could exist there. But the only pertinent question is whether any began there (to exist now).

    Why the desperation? I think its because NASA and the scientific community believe that the public is only interested in astronomy as long as it thinks that E.T. might be living under a rock on Mars or somewhere similar, and that he might turn up in the very next mission. If the public loses interest, worry scientists, tax payer dollars will dry up, and scientists won’t be able to continue looking for what they want to find — which is probably something more like anhydrous salts or polychromatic benzene rings. I believe scientists are wrong. The part of the public that is interested in astronomy will be interested whether or not there is life in our solar system. Those who are not interested in astronomy probably wouldn’t care unless Klingons invaded or Dr. Who was running for President.

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