Anthony writes:


I believe that there was a remark something like it’s not as if there are cells up there.  But there are:

Bird, Plane, Bacteria? Microbes Thrive In Storm Clouds


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I’ve wondered if clouds could carry influenza from migrating birds flying over or through them.  A dark cloud preventing the passage of UV could be the silver lining for the virus.

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There also was a mention of much material originating from the ocean.  That’s not water from a glacial spring mixed with sterile sea salt. That’s excrement from marine mammals / water fowl, raw sewage and who knows what else.  (I’m thinking of the DNA fishing expeditions finding sequences coding for unknown proteins.) Vibrio in clouds might not fall mainly on the plain, but it could find its way there.

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In the Sarasota FL area one August some years back, I wondered if the hot humid air is as alive with microscopic life as a coral reef is with things immediately visible.

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Yes, viruses in space would need to be inside something to shield them from radiation.  If that is so, entry into the atmosphere is not impossible.

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Caenorhabditis elegans survives atmospheric breakup of STS-107, space shuttle Columbia.


The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, a popular organism for biological studies, is being developed as a model system for space biology. The chemically defined liquid medium, C. elegans Maintenance Medium (CeMM), allows axenic cultivation and automation of experiments that are critical for spaceflight research. To validate CeMM for use during spaceflight, we grew animals using CeMM and standard laboratory conditions onboard STS-107, space shuttle Columbia. Tragically, the Columbia was destroyed while reentering the Earth’s atmosphere. During the massive recovery effort, hardware that contained our experiment was found. Live animals were observed in four of the five recovered canisters, which had survived on both types of media. These data demonstrate that CeMM is capable of supporting C. elegans during spaceflight. They also demonstrate that animals can survive a relatively unprotected reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere, which has implications with regard to the packaging of living material during space flight, planetary protection, and the interplanetary transfer of life.

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Are viruses likely to arrive from space today or tomorrow?  Probably not. Over 5 billion years? In the casino of deep time, low probability is a winning hand.

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Also from Anthony:

Why Trump’s choice for CDC director is terrible by Laurie Garrett

Neva writes:

Thanks, TWIVissimos, for your well wishes for my recovery from the broken ankle. I very much plan to be ambulatory, if not dancing, for the 500th TWIV in Austin.

I so much admire and appreciate the whole crew from all the TWIVy shows for your professional, collegial, and very entertaining podcasts that lead the way in science communication. I find these pods and others in science and technology very refreshing refuges from the political goon show as well as just being flat out fascinating.

And, Rich, your offer of schlepping me up to Austin for the 500th is more than kind but I should be zooming (Woveling?) by then.

Best to All & Onward,

Neva from Buda