24 DEC 2013 by ideonexus

 Microbes Rule the World

Microbes make up 80 percent of all biomass, says microbiologist Carl Woese. In one-fifth of a teaspoon of seawater, there are a million bacteria (and 10 million viruses), Craig Venter says, adding, “If you don’t like bacteria, you’re on the wrong planet. This is the planet of the bacteria.” That means that most of the planet’s living metabolism is microbial. When James Lovelock was trying to figure out where the gases come from that make the Earth’s atmosphere such an artifact of ...
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Stewart Brand describes the state of our world, engineered by microbes and ourselves as the vehicles for their propagation in many cases.

01 JAN 2012 by ideonexus

 The Immune System Reaction and Overreaction

The body has a very ingenious and usually effective system of natural defence against parasites, called the immune system. The immune system is so complicated that it would take a whole book to explain it. Briefly, when it senses a dangerous parasite the body is mobilized to produce special cells, which are carried by the blood into battle like a kind of army, tailor-made to attack the particular parasites concerned. Usually the immune system wins, and the person recovers. After that, the imm...
Folksonomies: immune system allergies
Folksonomies: immune system allergies
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It is a delicate balance, as when a mother is carrying a baby and her immune system must not be allowed to attack it, or when people get hay fever or allergies.

08 JUN 2011 by ideonexus

 The Placenta and Toxicity

“During most of pregnancy, the placenta separating mother and fetus is only one cell thick,” Koren tells me. “But it has an array of mechanisms to help it do its job of protecting the fetus.” These subcellular tools, he explains, include tiny pumps that expel toxins before they can do any damage, immune agents that guard the placenta’s perimeter, and placental enzymes that chemically break down intruding molecules. This armamentarium does an impressive job of blocking bacteria from...
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The placenta uses chemical and electrical criteria for filtering out molecules, meaning small fat-soluble molecules, even harmful ones, will pass through.