Do beautiful girls defecate?

Answered Jan 14, 2020

No, absolutely not.

All women are beautiful, so this applies to all women.

Every human (male or female) has gut flora. Which is a population of bacteria in the intestines. They help you to digest your food.

However, female gut bacteria are extremely efficient. They break down food entirely into odourless carbon dioxide and water. They can even do this with nitrogen and sulfur containing foods.

By the time the ingested food has reached the colon, there are no solids left.

The odourless carbon dioxide and water vapor are exhaled, and nobody notices.

In this way, females simply don’t need to defecate. And also don’t need to fart.

It’s all about biological science.

Are viruses living or non-living organisms?

Answered Dec 30, 2019

The hassle is in the question itself.

I don’t worry about calling them in some definition of “living or non-living”. I would just call them a biological unit.

A virus is a virus. That has a clear definition of being a parasite that needs another cell for machinery to replicate itself. They need to get inside a host cell, to use transcription and translation structures that the host possess.

A virus is a unit that contains genetic instructions to, with the needed resources, make copies of itself. This basic concept is what started “life”, and is the mission of all “life” forms, up to humans.

If you formally study microbiology, then you would put things into categories. Bacteria, archaea, yeast, and viruses.

The smallest, simplest thing is called “naked DNA”, which is just a chain of nucleotides. And even that can be used to make copies.

The most abundant biological unit on Earth is bacteriophages. Which is a class of viruses that infect bacteria, to make copies of themselves. A handful of ocean water can contain more phage units than the total number of humans that have ever existed.

“Life”, including obviously “living” species, is intertwined with viruses. There is a theory that, the three domains of “life” – Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukarya were branched off when LUCA (Last Universal Common Ancestor) had different cell lines infected by bacteriophage viruses.

There are viruses that splice themselves into the host genome. This ranges from Phage Lambda, up to retroviruses, with their information still in human chromosomes.

Viruses may seem like annoying, dead, trashy parasites. But, they live within us, and possibly helped create us.

How can we make bacteria that metabolize waste plastic?

Answered Jul 31, 2019

You wouldn’t necessarily “make” microbes that can do this.

There is at least one species of fungus that can break down certain types of plastic to use for food.

However, there are various problems. Some of which are biological, and some are physical.

The “plastic-eating fungus” uses enzymes called esterases, which will only work on certain classes of polymers that are structured a certain way.

Also, a chunk of plastic will only be vulnerable to reactions on its surface, which might take a long time to eat all the way through. Plus, if I recall correctly, there is a physics thing called “water activity”, which is necessary for the enzymes to work, but is going on at very low levels on the surface of the plastic (even with the fungus and/or enzymes present).

Attempting to insert the enzyme gene into bacteria for mass production has various biological problems, including protein folding, toxicity to the bacteria, etc.

Does the increase in medical technological ability match the rate of antibiotic resistance?

Answered Jul 29, 2019

Not exactly.

Increased medical technology (in this case, new antibiotics and wider distribution of them) actually pressures the development of antibiotic resistance by bacteria.

When you make a better drug, evolution responds by finding ways to resist it.

Do viruses compete with each other?

Answered Jul 27, 2019

Yes.

They can even compete with members of their same species.

Some bacteriophages (viruses which infect bacteria) will do this. The first copy to successfully infect an individual host may have a mechanism that prevents any further copies of that same phage species from being able to infect the same cell.

It should be noted that, different copies of the same virus species may have genetic mutations which make them different to each other. When they infect the host, the basic drive is to create and disseminate copies of their specific genome. This means that, preventing super-infection by competing strains allows the first strain to use all of the host resources for itself, thereby giving a competitive advantage.

What would be the worst weaponized bacteria or virus?

Answered Dec 28, 2018

Biological weapons have existed for many years.

In the middle ages, an attacking army would use siege engines to catapult corpses of animals and humans who had died of various plague diseases, over the walls of castles and fortified cities.

Two future versions come to mind.

First is an intense, but short term strategy.

You would want something which spread very easily, and killed people quickly. However, you might want to occupy the geographic area afterwards, and so need some way to keep your own soldiers and colonists safe.

With a virus, you would need an enveloped influenza. They spread easily, but also degrade quickly when sitting on a surface, or exposed to air.

With a bacteria, you would need something with multi-antibiotic resistance genes (that you could insert, and/or select for). However, you would also need to have either a better antibiotic (to give to your own occupying people), or some way to turn off the resistance genes (with drugs, or chemicals that you spray on surfaces, etc). Drug development is time-consuming, so your opponent could be working on it simultaneously. Turning genes on/off is complicated, even in controlled lab conditions.

Second, would be a “salt the earth” strategy. Which would be easier and simpler.

This means not only killing everyone in the target area, but also never occupying it, or using it. For this, you need a spore-former. Such as Bacillus anthracis – Anthrax. Or something in the same category, but even more obnoxious. These can last for decades in a harsh desert, and then sprout and kill in human-friendly conditions.

A third possibility is indirect. Humans are dependent on animals and plants for food.

Some microbes will target animal livestock, or will target food-crop plants. You could use either bacteria or fungus, depending on your exact target and timeframe.

This isn’t a bullet that can only be shot once, at one target. It isn’t a bomb that explodes, and then you never hear it again.

Biological weapons will be quite happy to turn on their alleged makers.

What are the diseases caused by bacteriophage viruses?

Answered Dec 26, 2018

As the name suggests, bacteriophages infect bacteria. They cannot infect humans, other animals, or plants.

However, some phages have genes that code for peptide toxins, which are then released by the bacterium host.

So the phage infects the bacteria, and provides the genetic information to produce the toxin. When you get infected by the bacteria (e.g. from contaminated water or food), it releases the toxin, which makes you sick.

This is kind of a symbiotic relationship between the phage and the bacteria species. The phage gets to spread and reproduce itself, and the bacteria receives information to become more virulent. When the toxin induces diarrhea, that helps to spread the bacteria host and the phage inside it.

Human diseases involving phage coded toxins include botulism, cholera, diphtheria, scarlet fever, and a few others. Here is a list.

To what extent does nature select for simplicity?

Updated Aug 11

Selection tends to be a numerical issue. It is largely about who survives their environment long enough to reproduce efficiently. Which leads to large numbers of progeny and descendants.

Without getting into a debate as to whether they are “really alive”, the most numerous species on the planet are bacteriophages. They are viruses which infect bacteria. They are very small, and relatively simple (although they are actually more complex and elegant than they seem at first).

The next most numerous are bacteria and archaea, which are comprised of single cells. These domains contain a range of species that can survive a very wide range of environments. Each individual species has its own needs, but, as general groups, bacteria and archaea can be found in many places that more complex life forms cannot.

Simplicity vs complexity relates to the amount of time and energy that is required for replicating yourself. A human being takes nine months, while bacteria have a theoretical minimum of 20 minutes (although, in reality, it tends to be somewhat longer, like maybe an hour, depending on conditions). The required energy and nutrients are vastly less per new bacterium.

Some species can evolve towards being more simple. If you are a microbe in an environment where certain needed molecules are plentiful, then you can lose the genes that code for enzymes to make those molecules yourself. Then, replicating yourself takes less time and resources, so you are now more efficient.

Microbes were around for a very long time before humans, and will continue long after we are gone.

Some multicellular organisms are also advantaged by relative simplicity. There are far, far more insects than there are mammals, for example. Also, their progeny are independent immediately, rather than needing years of parenting, sexual development, etc.

Can we say that the relationship between a bacteriophage and a bacteria is parasitism?

Updated Jul 13

Not always.

Some phages may be aggressively lytic (such as T4), and are possibly just parasitic.

However, phages that are slower-acting, and are present for an extended time period without killing the host, may have some kind of beneficial contribution.

The CTXφ bacteriophage infects Vibrio cholerae. The phage DNA is spliced into the host chromosome (as a “prophage” which isn’t necessarily making any new particles at the moment).

CTXφ contains the gene which codes for the cholera toxin, That toxin is what induces a human to have massive diarrhea during a cholera infection. That spews out lots of Vibrio cholerae, thereby helping the host to spread.

There is the Ff family (f1, fd, or M13), which keeps its genome separate, but secretes copies of itself without immediately lysing the host. I have read a couple of obscure mentions of some metabolic changes in the host. Although I don’t know if they are beneficial in any way.

I think another possibility is Lambda λ, which integrates as a prophage, which protects against further infection by any more Lambda λ copies. I suspect that maybe it also protects against other, more aggressive phage species.

Also, phages might be beneficial in the big picture. When prophages are being copied, the process isn’t perfect, and sometimes short segments of adjacent host DNA sequences are accidentally packed into new phage copies. This may result in horizontal gene transfer. That genetic information from the dead host is then injected into other bacteria.

What is the most primitive organism living today?

Updated Jun 8

If they are alive on Earth today, then none of them are primitive.

Every species currently existing is a product of billions of years of evolution.

A small, relatively simple, single-cell microbe species will be highly adapted to its particular environment. They can thrive just fine, live out their lives, create progeny, etc.

They replicate very rapidly, and, as a species or a strain, can adapt fairly rapidly to changes.

A species can even evolve by simplifying itself. If you live in an animal’s gut, you might lose the genes to make certain molecules which are plentiful in that environment. You would actually become more efficient, and thus, more evolved.

Unicellular organisms may seem “primitive” from a very basic view, but they start looking very complex when you look closely enough. This applies to individual cells, and to populations of individuals interacting with each other.

It’s very much about context.

There are plenty of single-celled bacteria and archaea which thrive in environmental conditions which would kill a human very quickly and painfully.

From humans’ perspectives, microbes may seem primitive and inferior. From some microbes’ perspectives, humans are clueless, enslaved providers of food, shelter, and transportation.

Perhaps one of the most “primitive” organisms on Earth are those zombies who devote their biological structures, processes, energy, and time, to alternately watching reality television, and then compulsively staring at their phone to scroll through FaceBook.