Tuesday, June 16, 2009


The Greenland ice sheet, melting slightly but surely and letting loose its frozen secrets like this little purple bug.

Herminiimonas glaciei, has been buried under nearly two miles of ice for 120,000 years and researchers have brought back to life the dormant frozen microbes. It took them eleven and a half months to carefully warm the samples which then began to replicate.

The little purple-brown bacteria belongs to a rare family of 'ultramicro' bacteria that live in extreme environments (extremophiles, remember) and this group is really tiny.

While researchers have stressed that the bacteria was not harmful to humans, they also acknowledge that if it was harmful they would be hard to detect since they're so small they'd pass through the safety filters which are now in use in laboratories. Well, that's that covered.

The bugs were extracted from a core sample drilled from glacier ice. They filled a volume of 0.043 cubic micrometres and are thin rods with up to three long whip-like flagella.

The idea behind the study is to try and understand what life forms might be living in the extreme conditions on other planets.

Remember Mulder and the shape shifting alien bounty hunter who bled green acid blood in the frozen north and the alien virus? Then there was the episode of the wriggling worm thing at the Arctic base that crawled into the ear and latched onto the spine.

Why are we bringing back to life things we don't know which came from somewhere we don't know? And why don't I just stop watching old episodes of the X-Files?


Brian Hughes said...


Sounds like something off Harry Potter.

"Why are we bringing back to life things we don't know which came from somewhere we don't know?"

Not sure, but the Rolling Stones do it every few years.

River said...

It's fascinating reading, finding things from aeons ago, wondering what their purpose was etc, but I don't agree with bringing everything back to life. Much trouble could ensue.

phil said...

WV is "oulme" and that's what they'll do to you too.

I don't know what I would have written if the WV hadn't been oulme, but that's another question.

Isn't it?

Jayne said...

There was a method in Mother Nature's madness to freeze those slippery little suckers -saving the planet or her afternoon tea snack, who knows! but I say that's where Swine Flu came from!

JahTeh said...

Try saying that with a mouthful of chip butty.
I've never been a big 'Stones' fan and the sight of the dessicated form of Jagger actually moving makes me nauseous.

River, sometimes I want to slap a scientist around the head for doing stupid and pointless experiments. I suppose this does have some merit if we ever do land on another planet and the dominant lifeform is a micro bug that lives under 2 miles of ice.

Phil, you've opened another batch of home brew, haven't you?

Jayne, I can't see the point in polluting the universe when we don't know what's under our own feet.

R.H. said...

My vast abode
From wanting everything.


Hi. Darlings will be overwhelmed to hear I'm dumping my career as a poet to become a folk singer, the money is no better but one is ignored rather than attacked.
I played Bolero this morning -your Torville to my Dean, and then Some Enchanted Evening, for Miss Pavlov, commemorating my first ever comment on her glacial blog: sweet and terrifying. Well there's no happy end to living, no point to wanting, you burn or freeze.

phil said...

Jeez I wish.

R.H. said...

I'll be on your front lawn tonight performing my latest single: "Vanilla-Slice Veronica!".

(Don't put the hose on me)

Mikhela said...

Umm,stop reading things, too, please.

JahTeh said...

Mikhela, you're safe, I'm down to the last four episodes of the X-files and I've finally caught up with New Scientist magazine. My brain might settle down a bit now unless it sees something shiny over the horizon.

Robbert, sing anything about food near me and you're putting your life at risk.
You can keep 'Some enchanted evening', I love Bali Hai but I sing it so badly but I do have the build of 'Bloody Mary'.