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Are Clouds Full of Bacteria?
These Overlooked Microorganism Hold the Key to Life as We Know It
The more research science does on bacteria, the more they learn it's literally everywhere. There's more bacteria in and around our bodies than there are cells of our own body. For every one "you" cell, there's ten "them" bacteria cells. Microbiologists are learning that different parts of our bodies have their own microbiome, or carefully curated ecosystem of bacteria, like our palms, behind our knees, our feet, and the list goes on. If you were to guess where the most diverse bacteria in your body was, would you guess your forearm? Strange but true.
Click here to learn about the fascinatiing world of Microbiomes
But all this omnipresent bacteria: it's not just in us and on us, it's all around us too. We are literally walking around with a cloud of bacteria following us everywhere we go...not unlike Pigpen from the Peanuts comic strip. A study published in Peer J, researchers captured the air surrounding a group of research subjects. They had people sit in boxes for four hours while they measured the air around them. Just by looking at the air, they could identify whether the person in the box was male or female by identifying thousands of types of bacterial DNA. Something to think about tonight when you're crammed into a train on your commute home from work tonight.
Once bacteria fall off our bodies, where does it all go? Well the most bacteria-laden places tend to be the places you'd expect, like public transit. For one really massive study by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College, researchers swabbed thousands and thousands of surfaces of the New York City subway system, a system that has nearly 5.5 million people pass through each day. They found DNA from more than 15,000 different life-forms. Almost half of the DNA belonged to bacteria and most were harmless (only 12 percent were linked to disease).
It's not just in public, either: our homes, have millions and millions of microbes on nearly every surface, even on the day the housekeeper comes. While there's a lot of bacterial action going on in the bathroom, the place where you find the highest concentration of bacteria is actually not the toilet, and if you want to find out where it is, you have to watch this episode.
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The parts of the human body bacteria love to live in (Wired)
"There is a greater diversity of bacteria living on the human forearm than on any other part of the body, according to a new study."
Home is where the microbes are (Science Daily)
"A person's home is their castle, and they populate it with their own subjects: millions and millions of bacteria. Scientists have detailed the microbes that live in houses and apartments."