Bacteria Can Take A Lickin' And Keep On Tickin'

Really. A German team put a thin layer of microbes between two sheets of rock and then blew them up with explosives that generated a shock wave that exposed the bugs to pressures equivalent to 500,000 Earth atmospheres. A bacterial spore and a type of lichen survived the over 7,000,000 psi blast.

So? Well, there's a theory going 'round that life on Earth actually originated on Mars, and it (they?) came to Earth on meteorites—rocks blasted off the surface of Mars. But opponents of the idea have always argued that the pressures involved in an impact big enough to blast stuff of the surface and into space would have killed any life they carried.

Dieter Stoffler at the Fraunhofer Institute for High Speed Dynamics in Friedburg, Germany put the idea to a test. And he found out that those little rascals, so successful here on Earth could have survived the ride.



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