They Will Outlive Us All…

Bacteria solution

Bacteria solution (Photo credit: kaibara87)

Bacteria.  We live with them, they live in all of us, regardless of how much anti-bac spray or hand cleanser you use.  As we know some are beneficial to our digestive system for example, while others make us wish we didn’t have a digestive system, if you catch my drift.

It has been suggested in the past that our over-zealous use of disinfectants can simply drive more hardy bacteria to multiply especially since science has discovered the tiny organisms around deep-sea volcanic vents and nuclear reactors, proving that they can survive just about anything you throw at them, once the strongest survive, reproduce and hence evolve the species to cope.

Now they’ve even been found in what are supposed to be the absolutely cleanest environment humans can create – spacecraft assembly clean-rooms.  These bacteria, collected by the European Space Agency and currently residing at Leibniz-Institut DSMZ in Brunswick, Germany, have managed to survive extreme heat, chemicals and other treatments meant to remove any biological contamination from delicate equipment destined for space.  These new tough bacteria are special because they’re surviving in an entirely artificial biotope, an architectural space, though they’re not the first as earlier in the year new types of bacteria were discovered in a hospital sink.  Ironically, it is possible that the processes and places designed to stop us sending bacteria to Mars may have created organisms strong enough to survive the trip anyway and they may be colonising a bit of the red planet as we speak.

Biologists are researching the captured bacteria to try to understand how they can survive and whether we could possibly derive some useful medical knowledge from them.  So it seems that not only are bacteria likely to be the last organisms to survive to the end of the Earth they’re using our architecture to toughen up in the process.

[Gizmodo UK]

Worldwide Collaboration & Amazing Discoveries

English: The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) begi...

English: The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) begins its separation from Space Shuttle Discovery following its release on mission STS-82. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As more of the world’s population is permanently connected via broadband to the internet the potential for distributed computing and collaboration on projects increases.

Already projects such as Seti@Home have used computers belonging to members of the public who’d signed up to the programme to background process signals received from space and other similar projects are in operation; Wikipedia is edited by an army of volunteers the world over as well as individuals who may only use their own specialised knowledge to create or edit a particular page; and researchers have been digging information from the vast resources of Google Earth.

Now ESA have opened up the archives of Hubble space telescope imagery to the public so that previously unprocessed data could be unveiled in all it’s glory.  The volunteers were unpaid but prizes were given for the best images to emerge from the process, those involved were simply doing it for the challenge and the chance to make a new discovery.  One such volunteer, Judy Schmidt, did discover an object that would have otherwise remained unseen in the immense vault of data.

A sample of the images can be seen over at Gizmodo UK and ESA’s site.