This whole website cannot be only about physics!


  1. Nanobacteria (nannobacteria?)
  2. Is rust an infection?
  3. Evolution: explains fingernails/blackboard noise?
  4. Gilligan's island biotech
  5. Garlic Mystery
  6. Never shower again?
  7. Noses sense *nearby* atoms?!
  8. Cells: lively animals wo/brains or nervous system
  9. The "Incandescent Chicken" problem
  10. Incandescent Bacteria


Nanobacteria: what under heaven ARE they?
     WIRED: are nanobacteria making us ill?
     U. Queensland novel nano-organisms
     ABC news new life forms & Mars debate
     Microbe size limits workshop 2000
     Nanobes in sandstone
     Google search: nanobacteria, also spelled nannobacteria
     Google Scholar: nanobacteria
     BOOK: Dark Life (excellent!)
     BOOK: The Calcium Bomb, also see the website
     BOOK: The Deep Hot Biosphere by Thomas Gold
Musings on the nanobacteria controversy...

If nanobacteria are far too small to contain a complete genome, it supposedly implies that they cannot exist? Nah, that's silly, since similar incomplete-geneome organisms are already well known. Ask yourself what other familiar bio-particle is incredibly small, and has evolved the trick of splitting its genome between several particles? An organism where several particles must join in order to create a single individual? Why human beings, of course. A spermatozon is tiny; so tiny that it doesn't carry a complete set of human genes. Ah, but humans are also an example of a huge genome. So how about a smaller example: SPORES!

Fungal spores are incredibly tiny, and perhaps have experienced evolution pressure in the distant past to become as small as possible. Many fungi employ spores which cannot create a new fungus all on their own, instead they must fuse with one or more slightly-different spores, each which carries a part of the whole. If the right spores come to ground near each other, the hyphae filaments which sprout from each will fuse together. (This is why we say that some types of mushrooms have several sexes or "mating types .") A nanobacterium may be the bacterial analogy of fungal hyphae anamorphs before they have fused.

Suppose that the bateria living in nano-crevices in solid rock were experiencing evolution pressure to become smaller. A smaller species can occupy physically smaller niches. The size of the DNA presents a problem, since an individual must possess a minimum genome in order to function. The obvious route is to divide the genes between several separate bacteria, and then let them share any necessary metabolic molecules among the members of the group. Yes, such a thing collides with the "evolution as brutal competition" paradigm. However, the setup makes perfect sense for life forms not living in a three-dimensional ocean, but instead which exist within a network of 2D or even 1D crevices where their nearest neighbor is almost certainly their close relative. "Cheaters" from other species could not take advantage of the colony, since they could not travel through solid rock to attack.

In this case, why shouldn't rock-crevice microbes, rather than functioning as complete individuals, instead split the work between each other and function as the "specialized organs" of a larger cooperative colony? If the goal is to take advantage of smaller and smaller nano-crevices, this setup makes perfect sense. It could result in bacteria the size of virii or smaller, where each bacterium serves a specific function in the colony, and where several necessary members must live close together in order that the larger group survives. Also, once such a system has evolved, and become robust, it could mutate in order to spread to other niches not found within solid rock. An obvious trick would be for the colony to mimic its protected origins: to enclose itself in solid rock of it's own manufacture, where the colony members distribute their metabolism by diffusion through nanocrevices.

A second major objection to nanobacteria is that they show up in sterile cultures. If we kill off the living things, yet nanobes still persist, doesn't this prove that they're just a mineral phenomenon? No, because... WHAT DO WE MEAN BY "STERILE?!!!" Nanobacteria, if real, evolved in the deep earth environment, and are probably all hyperthermophiles accustomed to extremes of temperature and pH. Some known hyperthermophiles prefer above-boiling environments, and the top temperature threshold for living organisms keeps rising as more research is done. There are lab cultures which prefer to live at 121C, and viable organisms are collected from hot-smoker vents up to 350C (hotter than smoldering charcoal!) How high will it go? Higher than the hottest autoclave? Is it not conceivable that a new and unknown deep-earth organism can shrug off all the familiar sterilization procedures which easily kill all surface life?

I hope the biologists are thinking in these terms. Are these ideas already well known? I'm not involved with biology myself. Perhaps what seems obvious to outside observers is invisible to those who live too close to the issues? - Bill Beaty



For years I have had suspicions about rust. Is it a form of biological decay? Why do polished steel plates rust in spots, like a disease, instead of attacking the whole plate uniformly? Also, apparently nobody is certain why stainless steel won't rust. Non-rusting steel was an accidental discovery. Also, "iron loving bacteria" are a major problem for industry since they attack the inside of pipes and cause rapid underwater rusting. Are we certain that everyday corrosion isn't similar? There are even bacteria which attack the extremely radioactive material in spent fuel rods stored under distilled water at nuke plants. (Distilled water, no food for normal bacteria.) And... why does water/humidity figure so largely in the rusting of iron and steel? If it was simple oxidation, would the oxidation not take place just as quickly in dry environments?

Maybe rust is a biological "infection" which can be killed by the appropriate bactericide. (New product idea, hint hint.) One scientist on the fringe says that aluminum corrosion is caused by deep earth cave nanobacteria in the water supply, and if aluminum is immersed in genuinely sterile water, it will never develop any white corrosion. Add a bit of city tap water to the mix, and the corrosion starts immediately.

Here's an even weirder idea: electrochemistry. Back in the 70's there was an article in Popular Science about a company which had found that if you submerge a large iron frame in the ocean and then connect it to a DC power supply, over a span of months it grows a thick calcium layer. But years later it turned out that this was not chemistry. Instead the e-field (or the ions?) attracted coral polyps to the steel frame, and the calcium was just a fast-growing coral reef. WHAT IF THERE IS A NANOBACTERIAL ANALOGY? If we connect underground metal objects to a power supply we can cause rapid corrosion of at least one electrode, and if we reverse the connections we can halt the corrosion (called "cathodic protection.") This process is electrochemical, or so everyone has always assumed. But what if it's akin to coral-reef growth? What if cathodic protection is less of chemistry and more of bug repellant? :)

And this leads to the real weirdness. It's well known that some bacteria prefer a sulfuric acid environment with pH the same as that in automobile batteries. (Sulfuric acid doesn't necessarily sterilize things.) And the entire function of car batteries is based on the chemistry of corrosion. What if... what if batteries are biological? What if ALL batteries are biological? One would think that it's easy to disprove this conjecture: just sterilize your batteries and see if they stop working. But as I discussed in an entry above, "sterile" has a new meaning if the environment is contaminated by organisms which aren't hurt by 350C temperatures, low pH, or extreme gamma ray flux, and which cannot be seen except with 2nd-generation electron microscopes. It's possible that nobody has ever succeeded in sterilizing a dry cell. Or if they did this accidentally, and the dry cell went dead, (heh. went dead.) they'd just assume that it had developed an internal short, and discard it.

If the science called chemistry is based on brainstorming, with experiments acting as the post-brainstorming "idea triage," then the above is a silly idea to be tested: that bacteria participate in the electrochemistry of the metal/electrolyte interface, perhaps they even metabolize protons or even somehow use the electrical energy present where potential gradients and electric currents exist, and if we truely sterilize everyday batteries, the batteries will function very differently than normal, and perhaps even "go dead" entirely. And this idea might also apply to electroplating, aluminum anodizing, etc. If nano-scale chemosynthetic bacteria are contaminating all we do, and if they affect electrochemical processes, then all known electrochemical devices might have a biological component: a biological component which is unsuspected because it is always present and is almost impossible to "sterilize."

Is there any way for amateurs to test such crazy ideas? Here's a possible method. A few years back I was playing with fluid visualization "Kalliroscopes'": bottles of fluid with suspended aluminum powder. Usually these are made with kerosene or mineral oil, but I wanted to try water. I found that after a few days my opaque "aluminum fluid" would turn transparent. The end result was water without even a milky tinge! Obviously the aluminum dust was oxidizing rapidly. I bet I could measure this happening hour by hour if I cooked the aluminum/water mixture on a stirring hotplate while monitoring its optical density with a beam of light.

In this way I could quickly measure the decay rate of the bulk metal, and measure the varying rate at various temperatures. That would be the control experiment. What would happen if I used distilled water, and I sterilized the aluminum powder? I could de-grease the powder then soak it in several different strong bio-poisons (sodium azide, etc.), or perhaps cook it at 500C. Sterilize the enclosure too, of course. Would the suspended metal powder decay away at the same rate as before? If not, then this shows that organisms perhaps play a role. And if the decay of suspended powder lets me measure biological action, it would let me identify the best bio-poisons, as well as developing "sterile technique" when dealing with corrosion bacteria. I could bake the aluminum powder at various high temperatures and find out which thresholds of temperature slowed or killed off the organisms. By contaminating a sterile culture with various innoculants, I could rapidly test food, blood, etc., for presence of corrosion organisms. I could experiment with other metal powders (make a test for iron-eaters, palladium eaters, etc.) Heh. Will damp steel wool in a glass ampoule of oxygen survive for years with no rust if we can successfully sterilize it? And will "cold fusion" experiments fail when there are no element-fusing microbes present in tiny hotspots on the electrode surfaces?



Perhaps that horrible sound is a type of "pesudo-pain." It's designed to stop baby animals from destroying their teeth by chewing on rocks. See essay.



If civilization was wiped out, one field of science that's easy to re-start is microbiology. A fabric salesman in 1600's Holland did this. Melt a bit of glass, stretch it to form a short fiber, snap it off, then melt the end of the fiber in your flame. It forms a spherical droplet; a high-power microscope objective lens! Contrary to popular opinion, a microscope objective needs no eyepiece, and it can be used by simply holding it within a few millimeters of your eye. Contrary to popular opinion, van Leeuwenhoek's microscopes were not toys, instead they ranged in power up to 1200x. The secret to these was to mount the spherical lens in an opaque plate to block all light except that which goes through the lens, and to place a small orfice over the lens to reduce the blur caused by spherical aberration.



Stainless steel totally wipes out garlic odor. But how can the effect of the steel get to the volume of the garlic oil that's soaked into your skin?! Or even the part that's trapped inside the fluid boundary layer against your skin? Yet apparently it works instantly. This is impossible. WEIRD! If your hands are covered with garlic, just rub them briefly on a stainless steel kitchen sink. The odor vanishes. How can this even happen. I'm confused...



Armpit stench is caused by bacteria. If you could sterilize your body, you'd have no odor. Also, a hobbyist group recently discovered that your clothing is an essential part of the under-arm ecosystem. (No doubt the bacteria evolved to live on armpit hair, so shirt-armpits are a close enough match for them.) If you know this important role of clothing, then it's not hard to wipe out your armpit odor for a couple of weeks. (You can even STOP BATHING for a couple of weeks, and adult armpit stench won't return!) THE SECRET: Tiny bits of chlorox bleach will kill scent-causing body bacteria in clothes, and "Michum" antiperspirant will sterilize your armpits. I've done this myself numerous times: sometimes it lasts a couple of weeks, but five days is more typical.

Under normal circumstances, daily showers have little effect on body odor, even if you use bacteracidal soap, since your armpits are immediately re-infected by your clothing. But why aren't the bacteria in your shirts killed by laundry soap? And more importantly, why aren't they killed by near-boiling temperatures in a hot clothes dryer? They obviously aren't. Experiments show that you can't disinfect your shirts by normal washing; you need a weak bleach solution. Also, why do the bacteria in your clothes leave white insoluable buildup on the underarms of black t-shirts? Maybe they are deep-earth cave-building thermophiles; "nanobacteria" as discussed in the recent book Dark Life. If not, at least you can make your towels smell new. All their weird scents are caused by bacteria, so just add 1/4 to 1/3 cup chlorine bleach to wash water before adding clothes. Mix it well before putting in the clothes so it won't cause streaks of bleaching. This also preserves your wash-load if you forget to put it in the dryer afer a couple of days. With sterilized but wet towels, there's no more of that rotting-dishcloth odor!



About my idea that electron resonance explains certain biological forces: Luca Turin has a similar theory but fully worked out. See the book "The Emperor of Scent." But his theory isn't about attraction between macromolecules, instead he only explains how human smell works. "Only!" Biological "electron spectrography" lets your nerve endings detect nearby molecules. They don't have to plug into receptor sites (how could we have receptor sites for all possible scents? The structure-based theories of smell just don't make sense.)



Get a cheap microscope and some paramecia from a long-lasting mud puddle. Watch their antics. They nose around in the detrius looking for food. They seem to display the low-level intelligence of insects, brine shrimp, or even a mouse or hamster. Yet they have no nervous system! What the hell. How can they do what they do?

Something at the subcellular level must take the place of fast-acting muscles ...and something else must serve as a nerve network which lets the blob of protoplasm function like an "animal." Where is Paramecium's brain? Could it be a nano-mechanical protein computer? What if living things figured out how to make distributed Quantum Computer networks from proteins, or perhaps from arrays of single metal ions suspended in the center of proteins?

I think microbiologists are misled by considering Amoebae as the conceptual prototype for a single cell rather than Paramecium. An oozing blob of jelly is one thing. A fast moving propellor-driven animal which acts like a mouse is something entirely different, and needs explanation!



Crazy stuff: Kervran says that if you sprout some seeds inside a sealed glass tube and then reduce the sample to ash and analyze it, the element makeup is different than ash from a similar seed not sprouted. Not chemical makeup, ELEMENTS. The plant seems to make new atomic nuclei which were not there before. LENR/CANR. Cold fusion in other words. Does this really work? An amateur with a flame-spectrograph should be able to find the extra emission lines of elements which weren't there before. If seeds do it, then all biology probably does also. But if we all create non-radioactive nuclear reactions, where does the released energy go? Yes, this is definitely "alchemy" so maybe it belongs in the Weird Science section.



Get ready, because here's some more far-fringe speculation. Years ago on Vortex-L forum we were discussing the well-known spontaneous combustion which takes place in mulch piles. Now bacterial heating is fairly well understood... but what happens when the heat goes up to several hundred degrees C and chars the leaf mulch?

By analogy with yeast and alcohol, (where alcohol kills the yeast when beer/wine is created,) what if we discovered that our wine was developing huge alcohol levels? What if it made brandy? We'd assume that a yeast group had learned to tolerate huge alcohol concentrations, yet still produce more. So, whenever we observe some bacterial heating that sets fire to the mulch, one (creepy) conclusion is that some bacteria types exist which continue to produce metabolic heat output even when the temperatures rise to enormous values; temperatures above boiling, above charring, and up into actual flames. (Or maybe it's just that the bacteria die early, and their leftover chemicals continue to react. But this idea's not as much fun! And besides ...WHICH chemicals?)

So, just how hot can bacteria survive? Hot-spring bacteria are found in "Black Smoker" deep ocean vents, perhaps surviving even the 700F temperatures measured in the chimneys. 700F is well above the 500F combustion threshold for paper. Of course that environment is still wet, since the pressure of miles-deep ocean keeps any steam (and flames) from existing. But still, maybe there are bacteria that could live at glowing-charcoal temperatures in our surface environment if they could somehow enclose themselves to produce enormous pressures to avoid having all their water evaporate. (Some nanobacteria are known to enclose themselves in solid calcite shells. They grow as a wet stone crust. They're also thought to be high-temperature 'hyperthermophiles.' Hmmm. Things are looking suspicious-er and suspicious-er!)

And continuing this craziness: if 700F can't kill certain hyperthermophiles... just how high a temperature CAN they survive? Do they still keep putting out metabolic heat even if their thermal output MELTS THE ROCK? Jeeze, what if all volcanoes are biological; with all volcanoes actually caused by bacterial decay, via those deep-earth hyperthermophiles. Arg! Bacterial evolution plus volcanoes equals PANSPERMIA! Panspermia is astronomer Fred Hoyle's idea that bacteria can survive trips between solar systems (perhaps hitching rides on comets), so it means that life initially evolved somewhere else, and Earth-life arose through planet-to-planet contamination. Well, if volcanoes are all biological, and if molten lava and ash-clouds contain hyperthermophiles, then... then... volcanoes are like dandelion puffs! Or akin to the high velocity seeds launched by Witch Hazel plants: volcanoes are perhaps intentionally triggered by the deep bacterial colonies in order to get the obsidian-enclosed bacteria-containing ash microparticles up to the border of space. Volcanoes as exploding puffballs sending out spore clouds. Volcano-producing bacteria would be "selected for," since any hyperthermophiles which DIDN'T go into overdrive and produce deep lava pools would be unable to populate distant solar systems! The Galaxy-infectors can only infect galaxies if they trigger planets to build volcano ash-clouds. And also, we'd be fortunate that these bacteria didn't decide to all fire off at once, producing continent-wide lava pools. Well, huh. Exactly this did happen millions of years back in India.

Along similar lines I recently had an interesting conversation with Peter Davenport of about the cold-fusion company "Blacklight Power". That company is based on the (currently fringe) idea that Hydrogen's ground state is actually metastable, and Hydrogen has another stable energy level below the currently recognized ground state. If hydrogen can be triggered to fall to the lower level, it emits an energetic photon. Also, it becomes "shrunken hydrogen" or hydrinos" far smaller than any atom (closer to being a Neutron than to being a nucleus with an electron cloud.) Mr. Davenport wonders if anyone has seen the implications for cosmology: the Dark Matter in the universe could all be shrunken hydrogen. He also points out that if normal hydrogen could be catalyzed somehow, the thermal output could cause weird fires (such as the infamous "Spontaneous Human Combustion.") But his idea put me on a roll: if hydrinos are real, then wouldn't Life have discovered them long ago, and harnessed them as an energy source? (Similar idea is: if "cold fusion" is real, wouldn't Life be using it as an energy source?) Of course the energy output of bio-catalyzed hydrino production might be too much for biomolecules to absorb (since Life also doesn't harness the x-rays or high-energy nuclear fragments resulting from uranium fission as far as we know.) But suppose there are hydrogen-eating bacteria which excrete hydrinos and harness ultraviolet photons? We'd recognize them because they could put out immense thermal energy while apparently consuming no fuel. If a human body became infected... they could cause charring! Maybe they're even a natural component of humans, which would explain the Yogi claims where some people can survive for years without eating.

But wouldn't these bacteria put out dangerous ultraviolet light? Ohhhhhh boy, someone already reported exactly this effect. Decades ago, Wilhelm Reich, the psychologist who got involved with "Orgone" life energy and "Orgone Box" therapy, reportedly cultured a strange organism. This organism caused eye irritation and gave sun-tans to anyone who worked with those petri dishes. Those organisms were odd: they were much smaller than known bacteria, they glowed blue... and they were extreme hyperthermophiles bred in autoclave ovens. Reich dubbed these organisms " bions." He reportedly obtained the organisms by reducing dry grass to ash in an oven, or by heating beach sand incandescently hot. If extreme-hyperthermophile "blacklight power" bacteria occur widely in nature, then this could explain Reich's results. And the results seem so simple to repeat; highschool students could probably make some "Hard-UV emitting" bacterial cultures for their School Science Fair.

Another thing these chemistry-loving bacteria might do is form underground metal deposits. What if all goldmines are bacterial? Maybe with the right combination of temp and pressure we could make a gold mine in a thick-walled tank. Just feed in seawater slowly, and the entire insides turn crusty with gold.
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