She's a Scientist: Nicole Fiore
An astro-biologist searches for Martians behind a Cracker Barrel restaurant.
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- [00:00:00.109](inspiring music)
- [00:00:03.610]Nicole Fiori is looking for life on Mars.
- [00:00:06.510]And her search begins in wetlands behind Cracker Barrel.
- [00:00:10.510]So we're trying to find a microorganism out here
- [00:00:13.840]in the wetlands that can actually use calcium carbonate
- [00:00:16.500]or chalk limestone as a sole source of carbon.
- [00:00:20.610]So there is calcium carbonate on places
- [00:00:23.180]like Mars, for example, underground.
- [00:00:24.830]And so we're trying to see if these organisms
- [00:00:26.240]can use that as a source of carbon.
- [00:00:29.430]On the surface of Mars, radiation is really, really harsh.
- [00:00:32.410]And so the surface wouldn't be very hospitable for life.
- [00:00:35.090]But underneath the surface, where there's
- [00:00:36.870]that calcium carbonate as a carbon source,
- [00:00:38.450]it might be a little more homey.
- [00:00:40.360]Fiore looks for microorganisms
- [00:00:42.370]called methanogens.
- [00:00:44.120]Methanogens that use calcium carbonate as food
- [00:00:47.160]could potentially survive on Mars.
- [00:00:50.080]And methanogens are commonly found in wetlands.
- [00:00:53.631]The methanogen is the organism we're looking
- [00:00:55.230]for specifically and that's because they can make methane.
- [00:00:57.640]We take it back to the lab and we put it on a very,
- [00:01:00.900]very minimal nutrient liquid with that calcium carbonate
- [00:01:05.280]and just continually transfer and transfer it
- [00:01:07.360]to new tubes over time until eventually
- [00:01:09.180]we have the ordinances we want.
- [00:01:10.670]Because they produce methane,
- [00:01:12.210]methanogens could prove vital for storing renewable energy.
- [00:01:16.310]Theoretically, we could put these methanogens
- [00:01:19.370]in the microbial fuel cell, feed them
- [00:01:21.630]renewable energy, so wind or solar electricity,
- [00:01:24.440]and feed them calcium carbonate.
- [00:01:26.320]And with those two things, they could convert
- [00:01:28.530]those into methane, which we can compress
- [00:01:30.610]and then store long-term.
- [00:01:32.280]One of the trickiest parts of Fiori's research
- [00:01:34.900]is keeping the methanogens alive in the lab.
- [00:01:37.910]Microbes are kinda like houseplants.
- [00:01:39.640]You give them everything that you need
- [00:01:41.630]and they might die.
- [00:01:43.220]But in the wild out here, they'll grow given nothing.
- [00:01:45.450]But in the lab, they get a little more temperamental.
- [00:01:49.160]Looking for life on Mars is an interest of mine.
- [00:01:52.120]Also, having this renewable energy aspect
- [00:01:53.910]gives it those practical applications
- [00:01:56.300]that not all science has and makes it a lot easier to fund.
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