How your microbiome can be influenced by geography Why don’t polar bears eat penguins? I’m told it’s a conundrum that regularly pops up in lists of tricky interview questions, easily answered if you know your geography. Of course polar bears live only in the Arctic, while penguins are only ever found down in Antarctica, safe […]
About Alexandra Carmichael
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Alexandra Carmichael has contributed 95 entries to our website, so far.
What scientists are learning from the bacterial DNA of ancient humans. If you take a trip to New Zealand you should be grateful you won’t bump into a moa. You see, the moa – a type of flightless bird – has been extinct for about 700 years, but meeting one would have been a pretty […]
How a canine companion can affect your bacteria. Given that dogs are such popular pets, you may imagine that the origin of the word “dog” would be easy to pin down. Not so. Until the 14th century, man’s best friend was known in English as the hound, but somewhere along the line the name of […]
The truth about the bacteria that live in your nose. Hello, and a very warm welcome to our first email of 2016! I hope you’re healthy and enjoyed some festive time. It’s a time of year in the northern hemisphere when many will suffer from head colds, so my commiserations if this includes you right now. […]
Alcohol, Bacteria, Christmas. A Festive ABC. With the holidays a few days away, perhaps you’ll join me in a small glass of eggnog, traditionally souped-up with a shot of rum. Early American settlers, by the way, drank their rum from carved wooden mugs called noggins, which may be how the egg-and-rum mixture got its name. […]
Oh Little Town of Bacterium Just ten days to Christmas Eve, a night on which Polish families celebrate “Wigilia” (vigil) with a meatless supper of 12 courses, one for each month of the year. It’s a meal that often features sauerkraut, a delicious and healthy fermented foodstuff that’s actually dead-easy to brew up at home. […]
Solving crimes with bacterial evidence It was 121 years ago today. December 7, 1894. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the Scottish physician best known for writing fictional stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, was spending his final day in New York before heading home to London after a U.S. trip. If only he’d known then what […]
The start-stop world of microbiota classification As we’ve observed before, your mouth probably contains as many different bacterial species as there are animal species in the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. (about 300). But your oral cavity is a mere minnow in bacterial diversity compared to your gut, where somewhere between 500 and 1,000 different […]
One person’s poop is another person’s soup After around 22 months stuck in the womb, you might forgive an infant elephant feeling a little peckish post-delivery. Mmmm, a nice comforting slurp of mother’s milk perhaps? Well, no, actually. In fact an elephant calf’s welcome-to-the-world meal is more likely to consist of a great big scoop of mom’s poop. […]
One reason our ancestors may have eaten more healthily than we do. Nope. There’s no way around this. In writing about dietary fiber, once again I’ve inevitably got to talk about, um, number twos. In doing so, though, I follow in illustrious footsteps. In fact, way back in 430 BC the celebrated ancient Greek physician […]
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