Monday, September 24, 2007

Space Travel Makes Killer Germs Kill Faster

This serves as a warning for future space travelers. Beware after flipping the switch on your cryogenic hibernation chambers for long journeys. Bacteria in space turns to super bacteria, a new Arizona State study, reported by Reuters, finds.

When testing salmonella taken aboard a recent space shuttle mission, they fond it “became more virulent” and killed more mice, more quickly than Earthbound bacteria.

The bad news, scientists don’t know why space travel emboldens bacteria. One possibility is something called “fluid shear,” which wasn’t explained very well in the Reuters piece. But this effect occurs in zero-G conditions and mimics the conditions in the human body, where salmonella typically thrives.

The good news, “the findings have already given other researchers at the same institute some ideas for designing new antibiotics.” So maybe future space travelers will be okay. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Or maybe our grandchildren. Or our grandchildren’s grandchildren. Or maybe, as the Copernican Principle suggests,
we’ll never find out.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.