Scientists Coaxed Red Rain Cells To Replicate

Remember the red rain that fell in India back in 2001? Back then, it was reported that the red color was from cells unlike any found on Earth, prompting speculations that these cells have extraterrestrial origin.

Scientists were baffled and the matter disappeared from public consciousness ... until now. Godfrey Louis, a physicist at Cochin University of Science and Technology and Chandra Wickramasinghe of the University of Cardiff had finally coaxed these cells to reproduce (I mean, what could go wrong?):

They say that the cells clearly reproduce at a temperature of 121 degrees C. "Under these conditions daughter cells appear within the original mother cells and the number of cells in the samples increases with length of exposure to 121 degrees C," they say. By contrast, the cells are inert at room temperature.

That makes them highly unusual, to say the least. The spores of some extremophiles can survive these kinds of temperatures and then reproduce at lower temperatures but nothing behaves like this at these temperatures, as far as we know.


Previously on Neatorama: 8 Weird Weather Phenomena

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The paper that this article links to makes all sorts of claims about extra-terrestrial origins for these cells. However, a simple wikipedia search for the red rain in question reveals that, whilst people were initially confounded about the origins of the red rain, it has been since confirmed that the red 'cells' in the rain are actually spores from moss and lichen.

Seems to me like some biologists wanted to sexy-up a piece of otherwise boring research in order to get some press.
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