There is an elaborate stealth communication network in the Earth beneath your feet. This smart web acts like a superorganism, fortifying defensive capabilities and coordinating deadly attacks on unsuspecting targets. But it’s not run by the NSA, the CIA, or the military. This web is made of bacteria.
A team of scientists led by Manfred Auer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have used cutting-edge 3-D microscopy to identify a new mechanism for bacterial networking. They observed elaborate webs of a common soil bacterium, Myxococcus xanthus, connected by thread-like membranes. This system of cellular pipelines suggests that some bacteria have evolved complex ways to deliver molecular cargo out of sight from snooping neighbors. Their work appears in the journal Environmental Microbiology.
Myxococcus xanthus biofilm devouring a colony of Escherichia coli. Credit: James Berlemanc
"One reason that the brain needs an approximate model of attention is that to be able to control something efficiently, a system needs at least a rough model of the thing to be controlled. Another reason is that to predict the behavior of other creatures, the brain needs to model their brain states, including their attention. This theory pulls together evidence from social neuroscience, attention research, control theory and elsewhere. Almost all other theories of consciousness are rooted in our intuitions about awareness. Like the intuition that white light is pure, our intuitions about awareness come from information computed deep in the brain. But the brain computes models that are caricatures of real things. And as with color, so with consciousness: It’s best to be skeptical of intuition."
"Sprites are large-scale electrical discharges that occur high above thunderstorm clouds, or cumulonimbus, giving rise to a quite varied range of visual shapes flickering in the night sky. They are triggered by the discharges of positive lightning between an underlying thundercloud and the ground. Sprites appear as luminous reddish-orange flashes. They often occur in clusters within the altitude range 50–90 km (31–56 mi) above the Earth’s surface.”
When red sprites flash they only last for a millisecond, so getting to see their beautiful display preserved in dazzling photos like these is an exceptionally rare treat.
Here’s what we should talk about when we talk about Ebola.
The first map compares the total deaths caused by disease in every country. The second shows the public health spending of every government. The difference of the two worlds presented speaks for itself.