Charming Paper Animations Show Tells the History of Microbes

We covered the work of Flora Lichtman and Sharon Shattuck before, but they're back with a new series called "Animated Life," which will explore major discoveries and the legacies they've left behind. Up this week: Antonie van Leeuwenhoek and the drop of lake water he bothered to look at under a microscope. » 11/24/14 3:00am 11/24/14 3:00am

Did Microbes Cause The Earth's Most Devastating Mass Extinction?

A little over 250 million years ago, our planet experienced a mass extinction the likes of which have never been seen before or since. About 90% of all species were suddenly wiped out. And new study suggests it wasn't caused by an asteroid or super-volcano — but rather methane-spewing microbes. » 3/31/14 12:00pm 3/31/14 12:00pm

Is it really worth having your gut bacteria tested?

How much can you learn about your health from a dab of poop or a swab from your skin or mouth? With various scientific researchers offering to test your microbiome for a fee, it's natural to be curious about the trillions of microbes living in your body. But is it worthwhile to get tested yourself, and what can… » 1/23/14 11:00am 1/23/14 11:00am

Psychedelic Images of Terrifying Viruses

We're living in a strange world, barely protected against the infectious, replicating agents called viruses. They may have gruesome effects on our bodies, but these viruses' microscopic world looks beautiful from close up — especially because researchers often add color to the images in order to study them more easily. » 12/04/13 3:33pm 12/04/13 3:33pm

Here's why wine snobs should probably be called bacteria snobs

Differences in wine quality between vineyards have long been attributed to processing techniques and seasonal variation. But research now suggests that regional differences between wines are shaped by microbes — specifically, fungi and bacteria. Cultivating certain grape microbes may actually improve wine flavor. » 11/26/13 12:38pm 11/26/13 12:38pm

What does cheese made from armpit and nose bacteria smell like?

We've already established that cheese-making is a pretty disgusting process, what with the traditional process of deriving enzymes from calf bile. But one group of researchers has tried getting the bacteria necessary for the cheese-making process from an even more unusual source: the human body. They've explored the… » 12/02/12 9:00am 12/02/12 9:00am

Rise in allergies has nothing to do with exposure to disease

Back in the late 1980s, scientists suggested that the sudden spike in allergy sufferers was the result of living in sterile homes and overzealous hygiene practices. Our immune systems, went the thinking, weren't being exposed to potentially important infections. A recent report, however, indicates that this "Hygiene… » 10/03/12 9:40am 10/03/12 9:40am