germs

You live and you learn

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The “hygiene hypothesis” […] suggests that people in developed countries are growing up way too clean because of a variety of trends, including the use of hand sanitizers and detergents, and spending too little time around animals.

As a result, children don’t tend to be exposed to as many bacteria and other microorganisms, and maybe that deprives their immune system of the chance to be trained to recognize microbial friend from foe.

That may make the immune system more likely to misfire and overreact in a way that leads to allergies, eczema and asthma, Hesselmar says. […]

In their latest research, the researchers took a look at how people wash their dishes. […] In families who said they mostly wash dishes by hand, significantly fewer children had eczema, and somewhat fewer had either asthma or hay fever, compared to kids from families who let machines wash their dishes.

{ NPR | Continue reading }

photo { Daria Zhemkova photographed by Mario Kroes }

Maître d’: Ah, good afternoon, sir; and how are we today? Mr Creosote: Better.

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Far more attention has been paid to the microbes in our feces than the microbes in our food. […]

We characterized the microbiota of three different dietary patterns in order to estimate: the average total amount of daily microbes ingested via food and beverages, and their composition in three daily meal plans representing three different dietary patterns.

The three dietary patterns analyzed were: (1) the Average American (AMERICAN): focused on convenience foods, (2) USDA recommended (USDA): emphasizing fruits and vegetables, lean meat, dairy, and whole grains, and (3) Vegan (VEGAN): excluding all animal products. […]

Based on plate counts, the USDA meal plan had the highest total amount of microbes, followed by the VEGAN meal plan.

{ PeerJ | Continue reading }

‘I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing — that it all started with a mouse.’ –Walt Disney

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“There’s as much biodiversity in the soils of Central Park as we found in the soil… from the Arctic to Antarctica” […] almost 170,000 different kinds of microbes. […] The team also found 2,000 species of microbes that are apparently unique to Central Park.

{ NPR | Continue reading }

‘All stable processes we shall predict. All unstable processes we shall control.’ —Von Neumann

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Few human possessions are so universally owned as mobile phones. There are almost as many mobile phones as there are humans on the planet. More people worldwide own mobile phones than have access to working toilets. These devices not only help individuals share information with each other, they are increasingly being used to help individuals gather information about themselves. Smartphones — mobile phones with built in applications and internet access — have rapidly become one of the world’s most sophisticated self-tracking tools. Self-trackers and those engaged in the “quantified self” movement are using smartphones to collect large volumes of data about their health, their environment, and the interaction between the two. Continuous tracking is now obtainable for personal health indicators including physical activity, brain activity, mood dynamics, numerous physiologic metrics and demographic data. Similarly, smartphones are empowering individuals to measure and map, at a relatively low cost, environmental data on air quality, water quality, temperature, humidity, noise levels, and more.

Mobile phones can provide another source of information to their owners: sample data on their personal microbiome. The personal microbiome, here defined as the collection of microbes associated with an individual’s personal effects (i.e., possessions regularly worn or carried on one’s person), likely varies uniquely from person to person. Research has shown there can be significant interpersonal variation in human microbiota, including for those microbes found on the skin. We hypothesize that this variation can be detected not just in the human microbiome, but also on the phone microbiome.

{ Meadow/Altrichter/Green | Continue reading }

O Lord what a row you’re making like the jersey lily easy

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This research project focused on the potential spread of bacteria when blowing out candles on a birthday cake. […] We tested whether salivating before blowing out the candles over icing would affect the outcome. To simulate a realistic party atmosphere, this procedure included consuming a slice of fresh pizza prior to blowing on the candles. We determined that a higher level of bacteria was transferred with this procedure than the previous testing. These results led us to conclude that bacteria expelled from the mouth can, in fact, contaminate birthday cakes and other potential food samples.”

{ via Improbable | Continue reading }

photo { Maurizio Di Iorio }