Ah, vacation time! Relaxing by the beach or in the mountains, retiring at night to a filthy hotel room, crawling with germs...
Okay, that might be a slight overstatement of the hygienic challenges of hotel rooms, but the fact remains that hotel rooms are, ultimately, public spaces, inhabited by hundreds of different people over the course of a single year, each one bringing with them his or her own cute little collection of germs.
Hotel rooms are, of course, cleaned daily (at least in the better hotels), but, alas, you can’t see germs, so just because a room looks clean doesn’t mean it is clean on a microbial level. Researchers ...
It’s summer, that time of year when belly buttons escape their natural habitat of swimming pools and beaches and wander free in the oddest places, from the library to the shopping mall (although unlike the grins of Cheshire cats, they rarely appear without their owners).
But as you survey these navel maneuvers, don’t think of them merely as evidence that humans are viviparous. Instead, marvel at the fact that every belly button you see, as well as all those which, thankfully, you don’t, are unique habitats, rather like zoos in miniature.
We know that thanks to the efforts of a group of biologists and science communicators from North Carolina State ...
We’ve all had the importance of tooth-brushing drilled (sorry) into us from an early age, and it’s not hard to understand why: humans have been plagued by tooth decay for as long as we’ve been human, and had teeth.Cro-Magnon skulls 25,000 years old show evidence of tooth decay, for instance, and as long ago as 5,000 B.C. the Sumerians were wondering what caused toothaches (their theory, found on clay tablets: small gnawing worms within the affected tooth).The most common form of tooth disease is the “cavity,” more properly known as dental caries. Bacteria that live in the mouth react with carbohydrates to form acids that are strong enough to dissolve tooth enamel. Once acid has eaten ...
...this would be bad news
:An 8-million-year-old bacterium that was extracted from the oldest known ice on Earth is now growing in a laboratory, claim researchers.If confirmed, this means ancient bacteria and viruses will come back to life as ice melts due to global warming. This is nothing to worry about, say experts, because the process has been going on for billions of years and the bugs are unlikely to cause human disease.In the real world, I'm sure they're right. But in an SF thriller world...head for the hills!
Because we keep finding it on Earth in even the most apparently inhospitable places...like the Rancho La Brea tar pits
...the next frontier in medicine
!Seriously, this is neat stuff. If you can make bacteria go where you want them to go, you can use them like little tiny pack animals to deliver drugs, clean up pollutants, and other Good Things.
Blood is always in demand, and not just by vampires. Blood transfusions mean the difference between life and death when people suffer traumatic injuries, or undergo major surgery.But there’s always been a problem with transfusions: people don’t all have the same blood type, and giving someone the wrong blood type is worse than giving them no blood at all.That may be about to change, though: scientists have developed a method of converting the different types of human blood into a neutral type that can be given to anyone.First, a reminder of what exactly blood is, aside from the reason Dracula doesn’t drink...wine.The main constituent of blood is plasma, a yellowish fluid that’s ...
Scientists have identified 182 species of bacteria that regularly live on our skin
, and estimate the total number of species of bacteria on our skin numbers around 250.No need to go "yuck," though:"Without good bacteria, the body could not survive," added Dr. Zhan Gao, a scientist in Blaser's lab involved in the study.The researchers noted that microbes in the body actually outnumber human cells 10-to-1."Our microbes are actually, in essence, a part of our body," Blaser said."We think that many of the normal organisms are protecting the skin. So that's why I don't think it's a great idea to keep washing all the time because we're basically washing off ...
...this story of germs from the era of the dinosaurs
found trapped in amber would be the beginning of a medical/biological/technological horror-thriller.