APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

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APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

Post by APOD Robot » Mon Aug 15, 2016 4:07 am

Image Human as Spaceship

Explanation: You are a spaceship soaring through the universe. So is your dog. We all carry with us trillions of microorganisms as we go through life. These multitudes of bacteria, fungi, and archaea have different DNA than you. Collectively called your microbiome, your shipmates outnumber your own cells. Your crew members form communities, help digest food, engage in battles against intruders, and sometimes commute on a liquid superhighway from one end of your body to the other. Much of what your microbiome does, however, remains unknown. You are the captain, but being nice to your crew may allow you to explore more of your local cosmos.

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Re: APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

Post by neufer » Mon Aug 15, 2016 4:31 am

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/01/160111-microbiome-estimate-count-ratio-human-health-science/ wrote:
<<In a new study posted ahead of publication on the bioRxiv website, three scientists led by the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Ron Milo find that the average human male is made of 30 trillion cells and contains about 40 trillion bacteria, most of which reside in his digestive tract. In other words, your body’s cell count is regularly poised to overtake the bacteria—and sometimes it does, depending on how recently you rid yourself of a few trillion via a bowel movement.>>
Last edited by neufer on Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Art Neuendorffer

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Re: APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

Post by Nitpicker » Mon Aug 15, 2016 5:19 am

Congratulations on "winning" today's APOD, Robert. :wink:

(My human spaceship doesn't look as good as the one pictured. :mrgreen: )

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Re: APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

Post by geckzilla » Mon Aug 15, 2016 6:57 am

RJN has tried to figure out a way to have this illustrated to share his thoughts on the topic as an APOD for a long time, now. Some ideas are very difficult to illustrate!
Just call me "geck" because "zilla" is like a last name.

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Re: APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

Post by Ann » Mon Aug 15, 2016 8:42 am

I found the image at left on what looked like a pretty stupid page, so I'm not linking to the page or crediting the author of the diagram. Sue me.

But I like the image. It suggests to me that we are a part of an unfathomably large universe. The universe is so huge that the human mind can't even really picture the true scale of the solar system, and beyond that there is Gould's Belt and the rest of the Milky Way, and then there is the Local Group and the Virgo supercluster, and then there are the various Hubble Deep Fields, and then there is the overall structure of the universe, and we may just as well stop there, because our minds boggled long before we were even able to picture the distance to Pluto in our minds.

And then there is the quantum universe that seems to plunge downwards, to smaller and smaller and weirder and weirder objects or "entities": molecules, atoms, protons, quarks, leptons, the Higgs particle, possible strings, the Planck length...

But while our minds boggle this way and that, we might remember that we are a part of this universe. We are as much a part of it as anything else. You, me, that spider over there, the fog that is rolling in, the music in your earphones: all of it and everything is a part of the universe.

And like tardigrades, we carry microcosmoses in and on our own bodies.

Oh well.

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Re: APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

Post by Boomer12k » Mon Aug 15, 2016 9:10 am

Our gut is a Universe to 100 trillion bacteria that are beneficial to our health.... Take your probiotics...

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Re: APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

Post by Whiskybreath » Mon Aug 15, 2016 12:27 pm

I think I need a shower.

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Re: APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

Post by Asterhole » Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:23 pm

Why am I suddenly itchy all over?
They're all wasted!

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Re: APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

Post by ems57fcva » Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:32 pm

From https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-re ... akeup-body : "The human body contains trillions of microorganisms — outnumbering human cells by 10 to 1. Because of their small size, however, microorganisms make up only about 1 to 3 percent of the body's mass (in a 200-pound adult, that’s 2 to 6 pounds of bacteria), but play a vital role in human health.". And given that the 10-to-1 estimate is being contested, that 1 - 3% may be a factor of 10 too high.

Then again, the Apollo astronauts did not amount to much in comparison to the size and weight of a Saturn V either.

(BTW - If I am a spaceship, then were are my warp drives? :) )

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Re: APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

Post by Zuben L. Genubi » Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:45 pm

As amazing and thought-provoking as the "human as spaceship" thread is to ponder, I am having difficulty seeing it as APOD material. This is closer to gastronomy than astronomy.

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Re: APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

Post by Ann » Mon Aug 15, 2016 2:45 pm

Not all passengers on Spaceship Homo Sapiens are nice ones.
http://phys.org/news/2016-07-early-emer ... losis.html wrote:

Tuberculosis, commonly known as TB, has been killing people for thousands of years and still continues to do so today—as the researchers note, it kills more people than any other type of bacterial infection. It is also unique in that scientists believe it is one of the few diseases that started in humans rather than other animals. But how it did so has remained a mystery. In this new effort, the researchers suggest it might have evolved from a simple microbe that lived in the soil to one that could kill people because humans learned how to control fire.

Their idea is that sitting around an open fire meant breathing in a lot of smoke, which is known to weaken the immune response to pathogens in the lungs—any microbe that made its way in—via blowing dust, for example—would find a relatively safe place to live. Controlled fire also allowed early people more social time, as it provided light after the sun went down, which the researchers suggest may well have contributed to more physical contact—and that could have allowed the bacteria to become more transmissible. Taken together, the two factors offer a plausible explanation for the evolution of a harmless, soil-dwelling microbe into Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
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Re: APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

Post by Chris Peterson » Mon Aug 15, 2016 3:04 pm

APOD Robot wrote:You are a spaceship soaring through the universe.
But unlike a spaceship, we aren't just carrying these passengers, but are always surrounded by a cloud of them, as well.
Chris

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Re: APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

Post by neufer » Mon Aug 15, 2016 3:59 pm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demodex wrote: <<Demodex (Greek dēmos fat + dēx, a wood worm) is a genus of tiny parasitic mites that live in or near hair follicles of mammals. Two species living on humans have been identified: Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis, both frequently referred to as eyelash mites. Demodex canis lives on the domestic dog. Older people are much more likely to carry the mites; about a third of children and young adults, half of adults, and two-thirds of elderly people carried them. The lower rate in children may be because children produce less sebum. In the vast majority of cases, the mites go unobserved, without any adverse symptoms, but in certain cases (usually related to a suppressed immune system, caused by stress or illness), mite populations can dramatically increase, resulting in a condition known as demodicosis or Demodex mite bite, characterised by itching, inflammation, and other skin disorders. Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) can also be caused by Demodex mites.

D. folliculorum and D. brevis are typically found on humans. D. folliculorum was first described in 1842 by Simon; D. brevis was identified as separate in 1963 by Akbulatova. D. folliculorum is found in hair follicles, while D. brevis lives in sebaceous glands connected to hair follicles. Both species are primarily found in the face, near the nose, the eyelashes, and eyebrows, but also occur elsewhere on the body.

The adult mites are only 0.3–0.4 mm long, with D. brevis slightly shorter than D. folliculorum. Each has a semitransparent, elongated body that consists of two fused segments. Eight short, segmented legs are attached to the first body segment. The body is covered with scales for anchoring itself in the hair follicle, and the mite has pin-like mouthparts for eating skin cells and oils (sebum) which accumulate in the hair follicles. The mites can leave the hair follicles and slowly walk around on the skin, at a speed of 8–16 cm per hour, especially at night, as they try to avoid light. The mites are transferred between hosts through contact with hair, eyebrows, and the sebaceous glands of the face. Females of D. folliculorum are larger and rounder than males. Both male and female Demodex mites have a genital opening, and fertilization is internal. Mating takes place in the follicle opening, and eggs are laid inside the hair follicles or sebaceous glands. The six-legged larvae hatch after three to four days, and the larvae develop into adults in about seven days. The total lifespan of a Demodex mite is several weeks.>>
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Re: APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

Post by MarkBour » Mon Aug 15, 2016 4:32 pm

Zuben L. Genubi wrote:As amazing and thought-provoking as the "human as spaceship" thread is to ponder, I am having difficulty seeing it as APOD material. This is closer to gastronomy than astronomy.
A nice play on words, there, but perhaps ponder further, beyond you initial gut reaction.

I know very little about this field, but it was interesting to follow up a bit (from several of the links given in the APOD) on some of the recent discoveries in biology regarding the Archaea. The implications, that would relate to astronomy, are many. Off the top of my head, these have implications for space travel (e.g. on the ISS, already, their affect on the livability of a spaceship are being studied), for the likelihood of us finding life beyond earth (they represent a whole new range of organisms that extend the parameters we would consider habitable), for what we might be looking for in that search (it always helps to expand our notion of what exoplanetary life might look like), and for the problem of confusing contamination with discovery (we could sterilize a probe to Jupiter of all known bacteria, but then find we had seeded that planet with microbes that were able to survive in environments we had not realized were supportive of extremophilic earth-life).
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Re: APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

Post by Banjo-Jim » Tue Aug 16, 2016 2:04 am

We are not "space ships". We are part and partial of earth, highly (?) evolved symbionts. To the extant we survive our micro biomes will have made the right choice of host. TBD ...

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Re: APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

Post by starsurfer » Tue Aug 16, 2016 11:55 am

I wonder if the universe could be considered to be a brain?

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Re: APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

Post by starsurfer » Tue Aug 16, 2016 12:01 pm

Click to play embedded YouTube video.

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Re: APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

Post by Jim Leff » Tue Aug 16, 2016 2:24 pm

Boomer12k wrote:Our gut is a Universe to 100 trillion bacteria that are beneficial to our health.... Take your probiotics...

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Actually, recent scientific study shows that the mere millions of cooties in yogurt, acidophilus, etc. do not make a meaningful difference at this scale. To loop it back to the greater theme here, it's like trying to get to Pluto at Lamborghini speeds.

Sorry I don't have time to hunt down the link; this was established a year or two ago.

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Re: APOD: Human as Spaceship (2016 Aug 15)

Post by Fred the Cat » Thu Aug 18, 2016 6:19 pm

If you have "Mutiny on the Bounty" nowadays they may just call in the Marines to right the shi(p). :(
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