Thar’s bacteria in that there snow!

| 16 Comments

I really need more time to fill in a gap in my microbiology education: environmental microbiology. I run across papers all the time that are absolutely fascinating, and wish I had a free year to just take some additional coursework in this area. For instance, a paper in today’s Science magazine discusses how atmospheric bacteria result in the formation of snow.

More over at Aetiology.

16 Comments

I guess there’s no “Preview” button for articles like there is for comments…

Hmm … along this lines, I recollect a comment by Dawkins once that Bill Hamilton claimed clouds and rain were actually “constructs” created by microorganisms for their propagation.

I never tracked down the details, but as Dawkins more or less said, Hamilton could make claims that would be laughed at coming from anybody else and still be taken dead seriously – because his track record was so impressive.

wouldn’t that presume that clouds did not form before the advent of at least prokaryotes?

Should be a relatively easy thing to show there were clouds before the first prokaryotes started showing up, yes?

not saying that there is NO merit to the idea; there might indeed be modifications of cloud formation relevant to microbial activity, but I don’t think I would go as far as suggesting clouds as entirely constructs in this fashion.

Hamilton could make claims that would be laughed at coming from anybody else and still be taken dead seriously – because his track record was so impressive.

indeed, and I’m sure you know there is even more reason behind that than just his track record- Hamilton’s original ideas of inclusive fitness and kin selection weren’t exactly well received by the old standard in the UK. Made them look bad when Hamilton went out and proved a lot of it on his own without their support.

some of the same people who coincidentally were very vocal opponents of Wilson’s Sociobiology.

… it’s also pretty damn easy to simulate cloud formation on a small scale, no microbes involved.

Ichthyic:

… it’s also pretty damn easy to simulate cloud formation on a small scale, no microbes involved.

So much for the idea that could evolve from bacteria, or that bacteria evolve from clouds.

In addition, with all of the bacteria in all of the snow all over the world, why haven’t cats, pigs, or monkeys evolved from any of it?

Of course, in Pole Greaser’s disgusting stupidity, he fails to realize that the paper is actually about how airborne bacteria capture airborne moisture in order to form ice crystals and water droplets.

On the other hand, his purpose here has never been to learn.

MrG,

Hmm … along this lines, I recollect a comment by Dawkins once that Bill Hamilton claimed clouds and rain were actually “constructs” created by microorganisms for their propagation.

Did he say all clouds or some clouds?

Ichthyic,

Should be a relatively easy thing to show there were clouds before the first prokaryotes started showing up, yes?

Would there be any way to determine that? I.e., maybe by the effects of rain on rocks or something that might still be findable now? (I’d be surprised if a significant amount of that kind of record endured for 3 point something billion years.)

Henry

Henry J:

Ichthyic,

Should be a relatively easy thing to show there were clouds before the first prokaryotes started showing up, yes?

Would there be any way to determine that? I.e., maybe by the effects of rain on rocks or something that might still be findable now? (I’d be surprised if a significant amount of that kind of record endured for 3 point something billion years.)

Henry

The only sort of fossils that are rain-related are these Pliocene-aged ashfall remains that recorded the feetprints of all sorts of animals, along with some hominids, and rain-splatter.

I.e., maybe by the effects of rain on rocks or something that might still be findable now?

The only sort of fossils that are rain-related are these Pliocene-aged ashfall remains that recorded the feetprints of all sorts of animals, along with some hominids, and rain-splatter.

there is no need to look for fossils of any kind.

why do we know there is water on Mars?

all you have to do is look for similar wear patterns that can only be due to redistribution of water via rainfall, age the rocks, and there you have it.

oh, and I think all here can safely ignore “the greaser”, as usual.

Yeah, do not respond to pole greaser. (S)he doesn’t really believe what (s)he posts, and is just trying to pull your chains. It seems that pole greaser gets a kick out of winding up the clever people. What a loser.

Personally, before I had any specific comment on anything Hamilton said, I would need to know exactly what it was that he *did* say.

It would not be correct to say that I am not in his league, more like I’m not in the game with him at all, and he wasn’t the sort of person whose thoughts I would try to second-guess.

Reminds in turn of the comment about Dick Feynman that trying to follow his thinking was like listening to Chinese opera. I recall an aqquaintance saying that Feynman’s LECTURES ON PHYSICS provided “physics for housewives”. I don’t think my acquaintance had ever looked at them …

not saying that there is NO merit to the idea; there might indeed be modifications of cloud formation relevant to microbial activity, but I don’t think I would go as far as suggesting clouds as entirely constructs in this fashion.

If I understand this correctly, bacterias are certainly not responsible for all cloud formation. The research found at most 85 percent of the nuclei were bacteria. There are a lot of other nucleation pathways available - dust, soot from lightning (albeit that is a rather circular “argument” :-P), cosmic radiation (as in cloud chambers), et cetera. And I assume saturated atmosphere must form precipitation sooner or later anyway, as it is an unstable condition.

But it should affect cloud and precipitation mechanics a lot. Another biological feedback on weather affecting current climate change, for better or worse.

Nigel D:

Yeah, do not respond to pole greaser. (S)he doesn’t really believe what (s)he posts, and is just trying to pull your chains. It seems that pole greaser gets a kick out of winding up the clever people. What a loser.

Just because you don’t believe the gospel you find it inconceivable that anybody else does either. The clever people don’t need me to wind them up; Jesus will do that on Judgment Day.

Ah, time for a citation from the late and very literally great Andre the Giant:

“In-con-CIEVABLE!”

“I don’t think you know what that word really means.”

Polegreaser “Jesus will do that on Judgment Day. ‘

Judgement day for what may I ask

the last day of your life is it, the last day

what do you plan to do for eternity, the soul can’t have sex, will you re-unite with your ex, what job will you have, don’t need A/C or food, just sit around and smile at jesus, what a great thing to look forward to! that smile may wear off after a few 1000 yrs don’t you think?

Actually, rC, I think being immortal would be cool – I’d sign up for the legion of heavenly warriors. Mind you, I can’t fight worth a bent penny, but I’d get all kinds of serious superpowers and magical weapons.

Just as long as they don’t give me a uniform that looks like something Spawn would wear: “Eh, too Goth! And all those chains – you want me to set off metal detectors all the time?”

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Tara Smith published on February 29, 2008 4:22 PM.

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