Saturday, December 23, 2006

Geek Cred

Just so you know what kind of guy you're dealing with here; of everything that was in the paper this morning, this is the story that made me go, "Wow, that's cool!" and jump on the internet to hunt up more information.
From Scum, Perhaps the Tiniest Form of Life
by William J. Broad, NY Times

The smallest form of life known to science just got smaller. Four million of a newly discovered microbe — assuming the discovery, reported yesterday in the journal Science, is confirmed — could fit into the period at the end of this sentence. Scientists found the microbes living in a remarkably inhospitable environment, drainage water as caustic as battery acid from a mine in Northern California. The microbes, members of an ancient family of organisms known as archaea, formed a pink scum on green pools of hot mine water laden with toxic metals, including arsenic...

Now, not only is the discovery of a previously unsuspected and completely unknown type of organism cool in and of itself, but consider this: the only place this new species is known to exist is in the hot sulphuric acid pools of a Superfund toxic waste cleanup site! Can't you just see it now?

FWS: Hands off, punk. This is the species' only known habitat.

EPA: But it's a toxic waste site!

FWS: Well it just so happens that this endangered species thrives here.

EPA: But it's a toxic waste site!