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Bacteria and Humans

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Bacteria and Humans2004-10-13 22:59
12 comments
picture by Flemming Funch

Square Bacteria? Apparently yes.
Researchers have managed to grow this square bacterium in the laboratory for the first time. The square bacteria was first discovered twenty-five years ago near the ultra-salty Red Sea. To grow it in the lab, the scientists used a culture with the salt concentration of soy sauce.
On other bacteria news, there's an article People are Human-Bacteria Hybrid in Wired. It points out that most of the cells in our bodies aren't really our own, and they aren't really human. Lots of bacteria, fungi and viral organisms are tagging along. All of it together forms a super-organism which is much more than just our human cells. For that matter, it wouldn't work at all if it weren't for all those other (mostly) collaborators.
More than 500 different species of bacteria exist in our bodies, making up more than 100 trillion cells. Because our bodies are made of only some several trillion human cells, we are somewhat outnumbered by the aliens. It follows that most of the genes in our bodies are from bacteria, too.

Luckily for us, the bacteria are on the whole commensal, sharing our food but doing no real harm. (The word derives from the Latin meaning to share a table for dinner.) In fact, they are often beneficial: Our commensal bacteria protect us from potentially dangerous infections. They do this through close interaction with our immune systems.
And because of all these different genomes and trillions of cells and interactions with the environment, it all gets pretty complex indeed. Much more complex than just trying to understand the human genome, which is only one part of it.

Anyway, I think there's a lot we can learn from bacteria. They developed amazingly advanced societal structures several billions of years before we came on the scene, all of which are still in place, and which pretty much are running this planet. The cells in our own bodies are essentially just evolutions of bacteria, and the whole bodies are just collaborative societal structures of those bacteria. With the additional more loose collaboration with all these other bacteria that tag along.

Have you considered the analogue of us humans potentially being the bacteria of a bigger organism? We tend to think we're destined for something grander. I personally feel a certain obligation to try to solve the world's problems. But what if that were rather immaterial? A bacterium is essentially just going about its business, doing what it is doing, and might be completely ignorant of the bigger system it is part of, and it doesn't really matter. I could care less if the bacteria in my intestines are philosophizing about life and whether they have personal problems. As long as they process the food I eat, I'm happy with them. For that matter, I'd prefer if they didn't aspire to doing anything else. Maybe it in some strange way works similarly for us humans. No reason to go around being stressed about not being able to solve big problems and figuring out the mysteries of the universe. Maybe doing exactly what we're doing, however irrational and silly it might seem at times, is exactly what we're supposed to be doing to keep some kind of bigger organism going. Not a particularly comforting thought, but it is possible. Would be more acceptable if we were conscious partners in some kind of bigger super-organism, as opposed to just being unwitting components of its tarm flora.


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12 comments

14 Oct 2004 @ 12:11 by jstarrs : I'm happy....
...to have these guests.
I just need to get to know them more.  



27 May 2009 @ 20:35 by star child @78.150.79.164 : i agree
i agree with your comments and also if you notice anyhing about earth level made by us , ie we use the earth to construct suface layer or the so called cell wall only contains biological beings . ie tress us etc email me i would like to talk guchidb9@aol.com  


20 Dec 2014 @ 05:19 by Annick @190.79.229.42 : HKXEZgywiyr
Thanks for being on point and on taertg!  


23 Dec 2014 @ 21:04 by Yukari @190.206.249.15 : OdUZOutjfgEjUloQ
hi jordan,Hang in there, the first few weeks with neorwbn always the hardest. Things will get better soon. If you and Leen can settle a routine for Alisdair, it will helps a lot. My two children have their routine and by 8pm both of them goes to sleep. Its a blessing for us, so we can have time for ourselves. I have been follow suggestions from Baby Whisperer book, and it works for me. Just to remind you, not many Malaysian will approve the techniques suggested in the book. It all depends on individual and the baby.Most importantly, you and leen take good care of yourself and have lots of rest (whenever you can). ita  


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