susceptibility of ultra-bacteria to heat?

David Lloyd-Jones icomm5 at netcom.ca
Mon Jul 12 14:20:44 EST 1999

Timothy Paustian <paustian at bact.wisc.edu> wrote
> From what I have read the main objection to microbes this size is that
> with our current understanding of cellular processes, they are too small
> to contain the structures that they need, ribosomes, chromosome, etc.
> Now that doesn't mean they couldn't be doing things in a way we don't
> yet understand. My mind is open, but wary.


Stay with that wariness, babe, it'll save your ass.

I see a number of things happening across the biology newsgroups, and while
some of it is sheer ignorance and stupidity, like poor "selah"'s post you
replied to, elsewhere we see professional jealousy, perhaps some academic
politicing, and here and there maybe ass-covering. To wit:

When Stanley B. Prusiner got the Nobel in medicine and physiology the year
before last for prions there was real weirdity around the joint. These guys
thought it was just right, but those guys thought it was like giving Madam
Blatavsky the Prize in physics for novel ways of moving tables. A prion is
supposed to be a small protein which carries enough information to make a
cow, admittedly an English cow, go mad. Either it's a really neat and
interesting finding, or it's somebody who went just a leetle bit overboard
on the bioinformatics gravy train. Which? Stay tuned.

Over in the lab and pathology newsgroups, which I follow as a speculative
business person (I'm the guy who introduced the coin laundry to Japan -- the
only real industrialist you'll brush shoulders with this week...), people
are all up in arms about micro-tumours in the breast department, micro
other-stuff in the blood bank and cervical smear discussions. As I read this
stuff it is pure externalization of stress on the part of the writers, and
has nothing whatsoever to do with what they see through their microscopes.
But I could be wrong.

The Japanese believe that the Moon's marias and impact craters show a clear
picture of a rabbit. After a few years in Japan, and a lot of sake drunk
under the cherry blossoms with persuasive astronomers, both Moon struck
young ladies and fine avuncular advisors of the ethanolic persuasion, I came
to the same conclusion. It's obvious. You just have to look.

Now all of these micro-critters may exist. Or at least a new schema of
classification, whereby old arbitrary divisions of scale are reconsidered,
may come into existence.

Meself, I'm wary too. My bet is on big fat bacteria, cunning little
mechanical viruses, (and, soon to come, an elucidation of the cunning
mechanical operation of enzymes), microscopes being all full of eye-lashes
and white blood cells of the vitreous humour, and on prions: six will get
you five either way.

I'm not a microbiologist, nor do I play one on TV.



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