Each of us is a metropolis. Bustling about in everyone's body are tens of trillions of microbes. Some are descended from starter populations provided by mom during birth. Additional bacteria, yeasts, and other life forms hitchhike in with foods. By age 3, everyone's gut hosts a fairly stable, yet diverse, ecosystem.
Most of the tiny stowaways hide out in the...
Food for Thought
As 2007 winds down, thoughts naturally turn towards what might lie ahead. Meals rich in high-carb tubers, perhaps? That's what the United Nations would like everyone to contemplate throughout 2008, which it is designating the International Year of the Potato.
Farmers now harvest more than 300 million tons of potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) worldwide. That makes it the fourth biggest food...
Little more than a year ago, supermarkets from coast to coast stripped fresh spinach from produce aisles as a food-poisoning outbreak swept the nation. From mid-August through September 2006, virulent bacterial infections sickened at least 204 spinach consumers. Five died and 30 others suffered acute kidney failure.
Among more than 3,500...
From Alaska to Florida, a novel and yet-unnamed protozoan is knocking off tadpoles. Species vulnerable to "the beast" belong to the genus Rana, which includes leopard frogs, green frogs, and bullfrogs, says ecologist John C. Maerz.
His team at the University of Georgia in Athens stumbled across mass die-offs of southern leopard frog tadpoles in nearby ponds last year....
In a school of thought that teaches the existence of extra dimensions, Juan Maldacena may at first sound a little out of place. String theory is physicists' still-tentative strategy for reconciling Einstein's theory of gravitation with quantum physics. Its premise is that the subatomic particles that roam our three-dimensional world are really infinitesimally thin strings vibrating in nine...