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Micro-organisms

Electron micrograph of H. pylori

It’s widely recognized that asthma rates have increased significantly since the 1960’s and continue to rise. With increases in asthma and other allergic diseases centered on industrialized nations, a recent hypothesis suggested that the disappearance of specific microorganisms that populate the human body due to modern hygiene practices might be to blame. Now researchers claim they have confirmed this hypothesis by proving that a certain gastric bacterium provides reliable protection against allergy-induced asthma.  Read More

Scientists have discovered that treating fresh produce with ozone increases its resistance...

We've all done it – thrown out fruit or vegetables because they went rotten. Fungal contamination is the most common cause of spoilage of fresh produce, with an estimated 30 percent of harvested fruit and veggies falling victim to it. Countermeasures currently including synthetic fungicides and pre-package sanitation treatments involving the use of chlorine or bromine. Now a team of scientists from Britain's Newcastle University have discovered that much more effective and human-friendly results can be obtained by treating produce with ozone.  Read More

A physicist has created 'biotic video games,' in which players manipulate the behavior of ...

A common criticism of single-player video games is that they isolate their players, shutting them off from anything or anyone that exists in the real world. Well, that certainly can’t be said of the lab-based “biotic games” created by Stanford University physicist Ingmar Riedel-Kruse – while they may be fashioned after arcade classics, his games require players to manipulate living microorganisms in real time. If you want to “kick” a soccer ball into a net, for instance, you have to get an actual paramecium to do it for you.  Read More

Researchers have discovered a new form of micro-organism munching away at the hull of the ...

Misfortune continues to take a bite out of the world's most famous ocean liner – literally. Twenty-five years after the RMS Titanic's ocean grave was discovered a few hundred miles off the coast of Newfoundland, researchers have identified a new bacteria feeding on the great ship's hulk. The scientists believe that the new micro-organism may work with a complex variety of bacteria, which inhabit a microscopic world inside porous mounds of rusty stalactites called rusticles, to break down metal into a fine powder.  Read More

Cicindela campestris, the green tiger beetle (Photos: Micropolitan Museum)

As art museums go, the Micropolitan Museum has a very small collection. Literally. Presented by the Institute for the Promotion of the Less than One Millimetre, the Micropolitan Museum of Microscopic Art Forms is an online “portrait” collection of mini- and micro-organisms photographed through a microscope. Inside the virtual museum’s halls you can find a zooplankton family portrait next to the glowing image of a mother copepod posing with her children (Okay, her children are actually egg packages). Down the hall, a postmodern bloom of diatoms shares exhibit space with a Rubenesque polysiphonia cystocarps.  Read More

A Snake Plant – found to emit 12 volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere (Photo: Ma...

Houseplants are not only aesthetically pleasing, giving a touch of color to otherwise drab offices or houses, they also combat indoor air pollution, particularly with their ability to remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air. These compounds are gases or vapors emitted by solids and liquids that may have adverse short- and long-term health effects on humans. But in addition to giving off oxygen and sucking out harmful VOCs, a new study has shown that some indoor plants actually release VOCs into the environment.  Read More

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