I listen to several science/skeptical podcasts and like to browse the latest science headlines on Science Daily occassionally. I was searching for something the other day and came upon 2 news items that I find fascinating.
Atheists are often labeled as nihilistic, all doom and gloom, angry and miserable. But while I can be just as grumpy or unhappy as the next person, I like to revel in the beauty and complexity of the natural world. I find it awesome and inspiring. See? It's totally reasonable to be a happy, moral and thoughtful person and be completely godless.
The first news report is from June 5, 2008. Humans Have TEN TIMES More Bacteria Than Human Cells. How amazing is that!? Only 10% of the cells in and on your body are human. The rest are bacteria. Now, before you grab that horrid antibacterial soap you insist on using, pay attention.
Most of these bacteria that live on and in you are helping you. You can't function without them. They help you digest food and fight off bad, nasty bugs, without even a thank you. I'm sure they do hundreds of other things as well. Collectively they are known as your human microbiome.
Scientists are seriously looking into these communities because when their balance is upset for whatever reason that can lead to you getting sick and causing such problems as gum disease, digestive disorders, skin diseases and even obesity.
In identifying the various bacteria that live on our skin, Martin Blaser of New York University has been collecting samples from people and using relatively new DNA-based sequencing techniques on them. The most intriguing information they've discovered is that there are host specific species. They are only on one person. So it could be that your bacterial signature is just as unique as your fingerprint or your DNA signature.
Anyway, it's all so fascinating if you ask me. I just wanted to share it with you. If you decide it's interesting and find any information that is amazing, please comment and share with the rest of the class. :)
IMPORTANT: Also, please consider never using antibacterial handsoap and the like again. It kills off good bacteria and increases the resistance of bad bacteria, which leads to weakening the immune response of not only you, but also those you're around often, like your family. Washing with simple soap and water, and washing by rubbing your hands for about 15-30 seconds has been proven as just as effective for cleaning your hands properly and thoroughly of anything nasty.
If you do need an antibiotic from a doctor, take the entire amount as prescribed, then follow up with some probiotics to recolonize your intestines with good bacteria. Never take less than the full course of antibiotics. You will just be killing off the weak ones and causing the strong bacteria to then be resistant to the antibiotics, leading to strong bad bugs that can then hurt not only you but those around you.
Also never take an antibiotic if your problem is a virus, like a cold or flu. It does nothing but kill off your good bacteria, again weakening you. It won't affect the virus. Let your body stay strong and fight the virus naturally. There really isn't anything you can take that will shorten a cold or flu.
Ok then! Next story! This next one is juicy! Scientists Isolate Compound In Human Saliva That Speeds Wound Healing. So start licking your wounds!
This is from July 24, 2008 from the Netherlands. It's definitely awesome news because a lot of people have trouble with getting their wounds to heal. If you or someone you know has diabetes or traumatic wounds like from burns, this could be quite hopeful news.
The compound is histatin, a small protein in saliva that was previously only believed to kill bacteria. Now they know it helps heal as well.
This helps explain why animals lick their wounds and why mouth problems heal faster than other problems on the skin or with bone. It also shows a direction for looking at this protein as a source for new drugs.
Ok, that's your science lesson for today. We're amazing creatures, and so are the awesome little bacteria and stuff that we harbor. We're in this together. We help each other. It's definitely something to marvel at. :)