Field of Science

Mostly Unicellular

In Doug Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe the entry for Earth gets updated and revised based upon 15 years of field research from “harmless” to “mostly harmless” (also the title of his 5th book in this series), not a vast improvement, but probably helps with the publisher's liability issues. The Phactor thought he was the only person who could do so much field research and publish so little. When teaching about biological diversity even biology majors seem surprised by the idea that a dispassionate, unbiased evaluation of Earth’s biosphere could be summed up similarly as “mostly unicellular”. This is true although it does seem a bit ridiculous from our large organism point of view. People just cannot or will not come to grips with the idea that each and every one of us has more microorganisms living in and on us than we have cells in our body. Wonder how much the modern obsession with cleanliness and resulting germaphobia have contributed to this misconception, or is it simply that most people just don’t know how tiny and how numerous are the organisms that surround us?

1 comment:

~mel said...

ewww... I watched a documentary on public television a while back on the microorganisms living in and on us... sometimes I think we're better off not knowing. Now, my husband says I'm obsessed with anti bacterial soap! lol He said they got into a big discussion at work about the anti bacterial soap ~ how it's HARMFUL to the septic systems, because it kills off the good bacteria needed there to keep things flowing. Interesting.