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Links 1 through 10 of 227 by Charlie Schick tagged cool

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"Patterns of homologous gene flow among genomes of 12 strains from a single hot spring in Kamchatka, Russia, demonstrate higher levels of gene flow within than between two persistent, coexisting groups, demonstrating that these microorganisms fit the biological species concept. Furthermore, rates of gene flow between two species are decreasing over time in a manner consistent with incipient speciation."

This is a really cool paper analyzing speciation in action. It shows how microbes slowly become less likely to swap genetic information as they differentiate. A key concept, too, is that each species has its own genetic island.

Great stuff.

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"Seeking to spur drug development, Stephen Friend has launched a daring series of initiatives to make biomedical research more open and effective."

Interesting fellow.

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"The Earth Microbiome Project (EMP) is the most ambitious attempt to provide a systematic characterization of the microbial world that dominates this planet. The ecosystem services provided by microbes in every environment (including the human body) are fundamental to the survival of life on this planet and the continued economic and physical health of the human race. The pilot study of the EMP started in March 2011 and is now reaching its zenith."

This session has four interesting talks on handling the data deluge, a field guide, why we should care, and mathematical modeling. Cool. Can't wait for the speaker notes and the like.

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"Artificial two-dimensional biological habitats were prepared from porous polymer layers and inoculated with the fungus Penicillium roqueforti to provide a living material. Such composites of classical industrial ingredients and living microorganisms can provide a novel form of functional or smart materials with capability for evolutionary adaptation. We demonstrated a design of such living materials and showed both active (eating) and waiting (dormant, hibernation) states with additional recovery for reinitiation of a new active state by observing the metabolic activity over two full nutrition cycles of the living material (active, hibernation, reactivation). This novel class of living materials can be expected to provide nonclassical solutions in consumer goods such as packaging, indoor surfaces, and in biotechnology."

Hm. Some really practical uses of microbes - impregnating fabrics to provide bioactive activity.

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"The story of a group of University of Massachusetts students who set out to initiate the construction of the school’s first permaculture garden a year ago is a remarkable one, but it’s only the beginning of a worldwide movement."

This is really interesting. Small-scale farming was killed by industrial farming to feed huge masses. But could it be that small-scale farming, like it used to be, to feed a local group, say a family or a cafeteria, is making a comeback? That would be cool.

Question: does technology and science help make us better "micro-farmers"?

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An in-vesell composter from San Francisco.

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The North American distributors of the Oklin in-vessel composters.

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"Widely described as the point of no return, the event horizon of SgrA* would be the largest in our skies, but still just 30 microarcseconds across — the apparent size of a tennis ball on the Moon when viewed from Earth. To capture its image would be a stunning technical achievement in itself, but it would also open the door to further studies of how black holes spin and gather material, as well as probing some fundamental aspects of space-time and general relativity. And the first picture taken of our local supermassive black hole — the most enigmatic and charismatic of all the wonders of the Universe — would surely be one of the defining images of the time. It might even knock everyday trouble and strife from the front pages, and perhaps even, for a while, from people's minds."

Cool.

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"What’s the news: If bacteria had blood, the predatory microbe Micavibrio aeruginosavorus would essentially be a vampire: it subsists by hunting down other bugs, attaching to them, and sucking their life out. For the first time, researchers have sequenced the genome of this strange microorganism, which was first identified decades ago in sewage water. The sequence will help better understand the unique bacterium, which has potential to be used as a “living antibiotic” due to its ability to attack drug-resistant biofilms and its apparent fondness for dining on pathogens."

Absolutely awesome. And if there's one bug that does this, there must be many many more.

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