Is Earth Alive?

Image of Earth as seen by ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft in 2009.

Proposed by scientists James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the 70s, the Gaia theory suggests Earth is a self-supporting singular life form, similar to a cell. The theory claims that, rather than being merely a stage upon which life exists, life — in all forms — works to actively construct an Earthly environment in which it can thrive.

Researchers at the University of Maryland have discovered a way to identify and track sulfuric compounds in Earth’s marine environment, opening a path to either refute or support a this decades-old hypothesis.

Sulfur is a key element in both organic and inorganic compounds. The tenth most abundant element in the Universe, sulfur is crucial to climate regulation — as well as life as we know it. If these organisms are creating sulfuric compounds that can affect their environment, and it can be tracked, it may indicate how much control life has over its own external living conditions… and show how interconnected everything is.

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