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HUMANS: HOME TO 1,000 SPECIES OF BACTERIA, AND OTHER SCIENCE NOTES

News from the world of science states that healthy human beings are hosts to around 1,000 species of bacteria, ranging from harmless to absolutely essential to our well-being. Without some of them we could not survive. That’s either pretty disgusting or pretty amazing, depending upon how you feel about bacteria. It does, however, put our vaunted world-domination into perspective, no? Our big brains, opposable thumbs, supreme adaptability and endless inventiveness would be impossible without germs. That must drive mysophobics (people with a fear of germs) nuts. Well, guess what? We’re all in this together, us and our 1,000 little friends.

So, for those of us earnestly scrubbing our skin with anti-bacterial potions and attempting to cleanse our innards of these little microbes, well, good luck. It’s not going to happen, and if you do somehow succeed in achieving sterility, you die. So it seems that little boys, with their propensity for getting all muddy and handling worms and frogs and the like, have it right. Germs are our friends, at least 1,000 of them anyway. As for the others, many of which can make us very ill or extremely dead? Better to let our immune systems sort out who’s who and get on with our lives. Barring that, there’s always doctors, and barring that, graveyards.

In other science notes, the deadliest animals in the world are rated in a Top Ten list. What could possibly be deadlier than lions, polar bears, cobras, crocodiles and charging elephants? That would be the Poison Dart Frog, #1 on the list, weighing less than an ounce and measuring about 3/4 of an inch long. These bad boys produce enough slimy toxin on their backs to kill 10 humans. They got their name from the practice of indigenous tribes in South and Central America of smearing frog neurotoxin on the tips of their arrows and darts. You need not be a deadly marksman to take down prey with one of these missiles. A mere scratch and you’re feasting on wild boar in no time, without having to chase a dangerous wounded animal through miles of rain forest.

In Japan, scientists are feverishly working on robots that people can have sex with, simulating human flesh and responsiveness. They’re working on simulated females, of course. You’ve got to figure that Japanese scientists are getting a little tired of their human lovers making fun of their small units. Here’s hoping they keep these sexbots away from foreigners, otherwise it’s back to square one. 

Astronomers are searching for Earth’s twin. What, separated at birth and all that? And which one is the evil twin? So far, they’ve only been able to locate distant cousins, but that makes them only hotter to find our long lost sibling. Maybe they figure we could use a spare the way we’ve been treating this one. And, with our population scheduled to hit 9 billion by the middle of this century, maybe some extra real estate will come in handy.

Speaking of robotics, scientists are looking to expand their impressive repertoire of artificial body parts from limbs, joints and heart valves to brain implants and even growing new penises (Are you listening, Japanese robot lovers?). Some of them figure they’d better start with men and kill two birds with one stone and just give in to nature by locating the brain directly into the penis, which pretty much runs the show for guys anyway. This way the head could be filled with spare parts for the rest of the body, or maybe as a reservoir for holding a lubricant to oil all our new metal limbs. Better yet, make the head a handy mini-keg of beer! 

And in further Science News, no cure is yet in sight for the common cold and the most effective remedy remains chicken soup. Colds are caused by germs, they say, but one we haven’t figured out how to kill. Maybe we need one more species of bacteria to come live inside of us to prevent colds? Why not? Make it 1,001. It seems that the only completely bacteria-free creatures on this planet are bacteria themselves. The rest of us are composites, hosts for bacteria and other tiny organisms. Perhaps evolution is just bacteria’s way of getting around without having to grow legs? And just maybe humans are the result of bacteria wanting to stand on the moon. Who knows? The bacteria aren’t saying much one way or the next.

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