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Microbes and health: The debate continues

Last week, I linked you to a piece pointing out that three New York Times op-ed pieces linking bacterial exposure (or lack thereof) to autism, celiac disease, and allergies were all written by the same guy, Moises Velasquez-Manoff. His ideas are interesting, but there's also good reason to be skeptical. If you want to get a better idea of the arguments for and against Velasquez-Manoff's thesis, I'd recommend checking out this post at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker, which links to several critical stories and to Velasquez-Manoff's response to them. Maggie 1

Yeah for yeast

The Oregon state House has voted unanimously to make Saccharomyces cerevisiae — brewer's yeast — the official State microbe. The bill now heads to the state Senate. Maggie

Scientists discover life in Antarctica

“It appears that there lies a large wetland ecosystem under Antarctica’s ice sheet, with an active microbiology.” — There's some really exciting news coming from the land at the bottom of the world. Maggie

Cat toys shaped like microbes

Behold, a truly fantastic gift for the cat in your life — catnip-filled soft toys shaped like amoebas, cyanobacteria, and (pictured above) giardia.

Giardia are microscopic parasites that can invade the guts of vertebrate animals, including cats and humans. Generally, you get it by ingesting giardia-infested feces. For humans, this mostly means contaminated drinking water, because giardia are harder to kill than you might think. They can survive quite happily outside of a host and are resistant to chlorine.

Blue giardia cat toy

Read more on giardia (and see pictures) at the CDC website

Just wash your pants, people

Levi's recommends freezing jeans, instead of washing them, as a way to save water. The idea is that freezing will kill the bacteria that make your pants smell. But Stephen Craig Cary, an expert in low-temperature microbial life, begs to differ. Maggie