Extremeophiles and Extreme Environments: January 2012

Artist Karen Jacobsen interprets her scientific illustrations in the Beyond the Edge of the Sea exhibit, on display at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Beyond the Edge of the Sea is a breath-taking exhibit consisting of hand-drawn scientific illustrations from hydrothermal vents experienced first hand by scientist Cindy Van Dover and artist Karen Jacobsen. Making its debut in Madison, WI recently, the exhibit was joined by these two collaborators and local residents reaped the benefits. After the opening reception, Van Dover and Jacobsen joined 350 middle school girls at the Expanding Your Horizons conference, an experience designed to give young women the chance to meet professional women in science. The girls used microscopes to explore and sketch microorganisms found in local lake water. Jacobsen went on to meet with art classes at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the Madison Area Technical College where she spoke about and demonstrated science illustration techniques.

The 2nd International Workshop on "Microbial Life under Extreme Energy Limitation" will take place at Aarhus University May 6-9 2012. The workshop is intended to bring together scientists and graduate students from diverse disciplines of microbiology, biochemistry, biogeochemistry, and bioenergetic theory with the goal of developing our understanding of the energetic limits to microbial life. This has relevance for the deep biosphere, planetary biology, and microbial ecology in general.

The workshop will comprise invited lectures, contributed talks, an unlimited number of posters, and discussion sessions. Applications to participate are invited before March 1, 2012 in the form of a submitted abstract. The workshop is limited to 80 participants. Priority will be given to participants and abstracts of most relevance to the workshop, taking into account the importance of diversity among disciplines.

For more information:

Study challenges existence of arsenic-based life, Nature

"A group of scientists, led by microbiologist Rosie Redfield at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, have posted data on Redfield's blog that, she says, present a "clear refutation" of key findings from the paper. But after Redfield and others raised numerous concerns, many of which were published as technical comments in Science, Redfield put the results to the test, documenting her progress on her blog to advance the cause of open science ... Redfield and her collaborators hope to submit their work to Science by the end of the month. She says that if Science refuses to publish the work because it has been discussed on blogs, it will become an important test case for open science."

- Arsenic, Astrobiology, NASA, and the Media, earlier post
- NASA Researchers Start To Backtrack on Earlier Claims, earlier post
- Snarky NASA SMD Response to Snarky Public Astrobiology Discussion, earlier post
- Weird Arsenic-Eating Microbes Discovered? Yes. Finding E.T.? No, earlier post
- Arsenic-Based Life Found on Earth, earlier post
- NASA's Astrobiology News: Arsenic Biochemistry Anyone? (Update), earlier post

AbSciCon will be held April 16-20, 2012, in Atlanta, GA. I want to point out that there is a planetary cave session for those interested. The cave session is topic #5 under Extreme Environments.

Information to submit abstracts can be found at:

Abstracts are due: 31 Jan 2012.

5.Session Family: Extreme Environments
Session Title: "Planetary Caves - Implications for Astrobiology,
Climate, Detection and Exploration"
Short title (for abstract submission): "Planetary Caves"

Description: The focus of this session is to promote the exchange of knowledge and ideas between planetary and terrestrial scientists interested in cave exploration and research across the solar system. Extraterrestrial caves provide access to the subsurface without the need for drilling and are potential habitats for previous or present life. In recognition of the broad scope, interdisciplinary nature, and strong international interest in this topic, the participation of any interested scientist with relevant theoretical, experimental, or field experience is strongly encouraged.

Organizer: Timothy Titus,