Microbial radiation resistance, possible transmutation of elements, and the dawn of life on Earth
Multi-species communities of microorganisms will expend energy to assimilate and process heavy elements like Cesium, Gold, and Uranium that -- now -- play no obvious roles in growth or metabolism. Credible experimental data suggests some bacteria are shifting isotope ratios and possibly even transmuting certain elements. How and why are microbes doing this? LENRs may explain how, but why?
Although credible experimental data suggests some microbes can transmute certain elements via LENRs, much more experimentation will be required to decisively demonstrate that microorganisms can truly transmute chemical elements at will and determine which species of microbes have such capabilities. LENRs may not be all that uncommon out in Nature; if so, there will be major implications for geochemistry, isotope geology, and nuclear waste remediation.
LENRs can mimic isotopic effects of mass-dependent and mass-independent chemical fractionation. Elements and isotopes conserve their mass-balances in purely chemical systems; that is not necessarily true if LENRs are also occurring in same systems. Accurate measurement of total mass balances for all chemical species may be needed to discriminate between chemical and nuclear processes.
ULE neutron-catalyzed transmutation is not energetically practical for more-abundant chemical elements found in living systems such as Carbon. However, transmutation could potentially be an energetically feasible and advantageous capability that could enable some fortunate microbes to produce life-critical, low-abundance catalytic active site metals that are unavailable in local environments.
Japanese government-funded project with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Toyota, Nissan, and four universities is developing abiotic LENRs for power generation. Recently reported outstanding heat production results at working temperatures and pressures far lower than those found in many undersea hydrothermal vents.