Very interesting. I think that in the long run, we will come back to being bacteria, but with cables, with ultra redundant coding of our humanity. Those bacteria seems to already do the cables. Why?
Nice discovery.

Bruno

On 27 Oct 2012, at 21:59, meekerdb wrote:

UH OH! We may have to consider the ethics of our treatment of bacteria next.

Brent



The seafloor is home to a vast electrical network created by bacteria
Annalee Newitz

It sounds a little bit like one of the subplots in Avatar, where we
discover that the moon Pandora possesses a kind of mega-consciousness
created by bio-electrical circuitry. But this is actually real. Two
years ago, researchers discovered a strange electro-chemical signature
in the sludge at the bottom of Aarhus Bay in Denmark. Now, they've
discovered what was causing it: a vast network of bacteria that form
electrical connections with each other, almost like nerve cells in the
brain.

Above, you can see what you might call tiny electrical wires that
connect each bacterial cell, under an electron microscope. The wires
are blue, and they are running through a piece of sediment, or sand
from the seafloor.

Over at Wired Science, Brandon Keim explains:

   The bacteria were first detected in 2010 by researchers perplexed
at chemical fluctuations in sediments from the bottom of Aarhus Bay .
. . Almost instantaneously linking changing oxygen levels in water
with reactions in mud nearly an inch below, the fluctuations occurred
too fast to be explained by chemistry.

   Only an electrical signal made sense — but no known bacteria could
transmit electricity across such comparatively vast distances. Were
bacteria the size of humans, the signals would be making a journey 12
miles long.

   Now the mysterious bacteria have been identified. They belong to a
microbial family called Desulfobulbaceae, though they share just 92
percent of their genes with any previously known member of that
family. They deserve to be considered a new genus, the study of which
could open a new scientific frontier for understanding the interface
of biology, geology and chemistry across the undersea world.

Even more incredible, it turns out these bacteria are found all over
the world, their tiny electrical cables woven deeply into the mud of
the ocean bottom. Keim writes that the scientists found "a full
half-mile of Desulfobulbacea cable" in one teaspoonful of mud.

The seafloor is home to a vast electrical network created by bacteria
In other words, the entire ocean bed may be electrified in the same
way our nervous systems are. They're networks of individual cells
connected by electro-chemical signals — essentially they are an
enormous multi-cellular organism. These bacteria "breathe" by
absorbing oxygen and hydrogen sulfide, emitting water as a byproduct.
They might be serving as a vast water purification system on the ocean
bottom, or they might be part of a geological process that's a lot
more complex. We also have no way of knowing how other sea creatures
are interacting with this giant electrical grid organism.

What matters here is that we've just discovered a new kind of life
that is not only ubiquitous, but also engaging in electro-chemical
processes throughout the oceans. There's no evidence that this life
form is "thinking" in any way that we'd recognize, but it certainly
sounds like the perfect opening to a science fiction story.

Read more about this bacterial network, and see more amazing pictures,
in Wired. Read the scientists' paper in Nature. Images via Nils
Risgaard-Petersen; schematic via Nature

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/10/bacteria-electric-wires


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