Extraterrestrials, or Space Pirates?

A landmark study has illuminated the presence of specific microbes on the ISS strongly suggesting that humans might be on board the spacecraft.  In a routine survey of one air filter and more than one (two) of the vacuum bags used to clean the station, the researchers arrived at unexpected results – the amount and type of microbes found on the ISS are in stark contrast to those found on the meticulously scrubbed and disinfected NASA clean rooms* back on Earth.  Furthermore, these microbes on the ISS seem to resemble those found in association with humans.


NASA Clean room, image from Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:327160main_SICDH_FS_img1_lg.jpg
NASA Clean room, image from Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:327160main_SICDH_FS_img1_lg.jpg

Experts say that if these microbes came from a human, it is entirely possible that they could live on another human.  A major worry is that the astronauts and cosmonauts expected to continue living and working now on the ISS might be living with bacteria, which have been known to cause disease in the past.  It is therefore now the topmost priority to figure out which pathogens are there and how on (from?) Earth they arrived.


Astronaut Karen Nyberg with fellow Cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and Astronaut Luca Parmitano, image from Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Astronaut_Karen_Nyberg_With_Cosmonaut_Fyodor_Yurchikhin_and_Astronaut_Luca_Parmitano.jpg
Astronaut Karen Nyberg with fellow Cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and Astronaut Luca Parmitano, image from Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Astronaut_Karen_Nyberg_With_Cosmonaut_Fyodor_Yurchikhin_and_Astronaut_Luca_Parmitano.jpg

Microbial forensic experts are being called in to analyze the unique “fingerprint” signatures of the microbes left behind, in the hope of identifying the suspects these potential pathogens came from.  Preliminary findings have urged officials to focus their search on anyone who has recently eaten space-grown lettuce.  Next steps to understanding what is influencing the microbes on the ISS include analyzing the effect of a human breathing, eating, washing hair, sneezing, farting, playing the guitar or performing any other act as might be expected of these hypothesized ISS inhabitants.  Due to the limited knowledge of the on-goings of the station, the public is being asked for any information they might know of regarding such activities.

*Designed to eliminate the spread and survival of microorganisms.


There is growing evidence supporting that having pets in the home from a young age can have profound effects on our long-term health. Dozens of recent studies have linked the microbes associated with doggie and kitty cat friendly households to the health of a building’s occupants, including a significantly decreased risk of asthma, allergies, and an overall less resilient microbiome. With such knowledge, parents now face a predicament that is sure to tug on the heartstrings. Parents shouldn’t have to sacrifice the long-term health of their child just because they don’t have the time or money to care for a furry, four-legged, divine carrier of microbes. Now, they don’t have to!

Introducing Bactopets©, a collection of stuffed animals that have the same microbiome as the real animal! Forgo all of the cleaning, pooper-scoopering, and shredded furniture with the same benefits as having a real cat or dog. Bactopets© are inoculated with a Slo-Release Microbial Technology™ to insure maximal effectiveness. We made Bactopets© to be extremely soft and adorable so they are guaranteed to improve your child’s microbiome because your child will be unable to resist the urge to rub it in on their face, snuggle with it (good for maximal microbial respiratory entry), and possibly even suckle on it. Bactopets© are odorless so you can even sneak this as a gift to your child without your germophobic spouse finding out.

Collect them all!

BactoLab© reflects the microbiome of a Labrador retriever who has been swimming in a stagnant pond, rolled on an unidentifiable carcass, chewed on numerous neighborhood sticks, and sniffed dozens of doggie butts. BactoLab© is now available in brown, black, and golden colors.

BactoTabby© reflects the microbiome of a tabby cat who has hunted several mice and birds, dug in a dirty litter box, and explored the most cobwebbed corners of the neighborhood.

BactoPetPlus© is a deluxe version of the aforementioned products with the addition of real pet dander for even greater long-term health benefits.

BactoSpray© is an inoculated dog or cat microbe solution that you can simply spray on your child’s favorite stuffed animal and around your home. BactoSpray© is also available in a more discrete packaging under the guise of “probiotic” to blend in well with your germophobic spouse’s collect of kombucha and yogurt.



New Marketing Campaign by Apple


“An Apple a day keeps the doctor away” – Apple’s New Slogan

Apple has launched a new marketing campaign in an attempt to revitalize interest in their MacBook computers after a researcher found a virtually undetectable mac virus known as  Thundercat  that can effect Apple computers running OS X LabRat.  This campaign involves inoculating Apple MacBook computers with the naturally occurring GMO free bacteria, Canislupis tonitrui, found on organic Red Cumulus strains of apples. Researchers studied a variety of microbes from a variety of apple types before discovering this bacteria which releases anti-viral compounds into its environment.  Apple claims that inoculation with this apple microbe will help prevent MacBook infection by Thundercat and provide other benefits to computer health including longer battery life and decreased frequency of internet pop up ads. Apple also plans to sell this bacteria to current Apple users through a “patch” that you can stick on your computer. These patches will be available for order from the App store shortly.

What do you think of Apple’s new marketing campaign? Will you buy the new microbe “patch” to protect against the Thundercat virus?

Lunar microbes cluster with natural rind cheese microbes

A recent expedition to the moon’s surface by Apollo 18 was conducted by the USA. Moon rocks were obtained (in triplicate of course) from several different lunar mares across the moon’s surface by the unmanned rover, Red.  Some questions remain about the Red rover’s sterility, early reports indicating that it has sterile technique comparable to that of a graduate student.

What has scientists really scratching their heads though is the results of a 16S rRNA survey performed on the lunar rocks. Scientists expected lunar 16S sequences to cluster with samples from Earth’s cold deserts. Instead the lunar 16S sequences appear to cluster with those of natural rind cheeses.


We asked researcher, Dr. Rusti Button, to comment on this inexplicable finding.

“I’m not all that surprised. I mean, people have been saying that the moon is made out of cheese for years, right? Additionally, natural rind cheeses are left undisturbed during the aging process, just like the surface of the moon has been left largely undisturbed. I’d even hypothesize that after increased lunar landings, we might see the moon microbiome begin to cluster with bloomy rinds [which are usually inoculated with fungi] due to human contaminants.”

Do these early lunar microbiome results lend weight to growing evidence that the moon really is made of cheese? If the moon is made of cheese, then where did the milk come from? How will future lunar missions and possible human colonization change the lunar microbiome? Researchers are currently working to find answers to these and other cheesy questions.


Scientists have just uncovered another layer of mystery about hipsters. Hipsters are a family in which all-inclusive species can be identified by several phenotypic traits such as black-rimmed glasses with no frames, tight pants, messenger bags, pomaded hair, and vintage shoes. The hipster population is an essential part to the ecosystem, so researchers are pressured to figure out why it is on such a rapid decline. One current theory suggests the population decline could be due to the hipster lifestyle choices becoming ironically mainstream; another theory suggests tight pants can cause infertility by means of unwanted “hipsterectomies”. Hipsters are crucial to the survival of independent coffee shops, record stores, feminist bookstores, and Apple. One hypothesis about the rapid decline in the hipster population  is that there is a disruption to their hipstermicrobiome. Therefore, researchers have taken creative approaches to further the understanding of hipsters by use of next generation sequencing techniques.

The results of the study are astounding. Hipsters were found to possess significantly higher abundances of microbes that were discovered before they were cool compared to the microbes found on control subjects. Ironically, these microbes were also found on the surfaces in microbreweries, fixed gear bicycle shops, and on packs of American Spirit cigarettes. While it is inconclusive if these correlations are related to the rapidly declining hipster population, scientists believe they have made a breakthrough into saving the hipster population. It was previously thought that the microbes found on hipsters were unculturable until students in Dr. Allman’s research laboratory at Dartmouth College disproved this theory. Hipster microbes can in fact be cultured if new, but vintage looking equipment is used. Obviously this is a very expensive technique, so scientists are now pouring resources into potential cures of hipsterectomies. In fact, researchers have high hopes for a mainstream, dubstep-resistant inoculant for mustache wax that entered clinical trials last month.

Storify Summary of Day2 of #PublishPerish14

Another quick post here. I am working on a web site summarizing everything from our recent meeting we hosted at UC Davis:

To capture what was going on on Twitter I used Storify to make a summary of Day 2.

See below.

Wanted – examples of ways to get DOIs for blog posts & how they are used

For many years I have been wondering about the best way to get more formal credit for blog posts I have written.  It seems like the simplest way to do this would be to get a DOI for a blog post under some sort of publishing system and to use that DOI as the citable unit for the post.  I remember a while back Titus Brown wrote about this exact idea: Posting blog entries to figshare – Living in an Ivory Basement but I have not seen much else out there on ways to do this and what the implications are.  Anyone else out there know examples of how people have gotten DOIs for blog posts and if this has been useful?  Thanks



Interested in #OpenAccess publishing?: definitely take a look at this working paper from CREATe

Well, this is certainly the most comprehensive treatise I have ever seen on Open Access publishing: Open Access Publishing: A Literature Review | CREATe.  It was written by “Giancarlo Frosio under the supervision of Estelle Derclaye (2014)” and

comes from the Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy (CREATe).  It is VERY comprehensive and has discussion, review, and comments on just about every issue associated with Open Access publishing that one could think of. I do not know if there is any particular “angle” to the writings here.  What I looked at (not all of the document) seemed to be a relatively objective assessment of various OA issues.  Anyway, it is definitely worth a look for anyone interested in scholarly publishing or Open Access publishing or related issues.