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Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Yesterday I posted on the greatest invention ever (scroll down to the next article), but the presentation ended up worrying about the end of humanity by microscopic life.  Well, to reinforce that contention, a report last month in Scientific American was entitled,  Microscopic Mass Murderer:

  • 252 million years, 90% of all species died off in "just" a 20,0000 year period.
  • Researchers looked at the potential of:
    • an asteroid strike
    • volcanoes emitting carbon dioxide and methane
  • However, Dan Rothman (right) of MIT postulated that the assassin was an archaea, Methanosarcina (in the circle), which produced so much methane, that oxygen levels plummeted.
I now have another culprit to add for The Venus Syndrome.  If you are a regular viewer, you know what TVS is all about, but if  you're new, click on:
My novel on this subject is in the early stages of production.

As terrible as methane might be in TVS, with fracking, natural gas, which is mostly methane, has materially improved both our energy supply needs and partially ameliorated global warming.  Also on the plus side, a species of methanosarcina, was used in a patented process by Shimuzu of Japan:  Method of and apparatus for controlling waste water treatment by anaerobic fermentation.

As my posting yesterday indicated, 99% of microbes are good.  Likewise, methane is a cost effective energy form that produces, for the same  heat, half the carbon dioxide of coal.  It would, thus, be ironic that this compound we are more and more utilizing for mostly positive reasons ultimately causes our extinction.  The good news is that the combination of methaosarcina and methane means that society will have another few thousand years to flourish before that final termination.  And, I would think that, knowing this potential end game, and a time frame, say, 20,000 years, we should be able to find a simple solution.

I might add that our stock market is doing boffo.  Today, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index closed above 2000 for the first time in  history and the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped the all time closing high of 17,138, but settled at 17,106.  For the year they are all up:

  • Dow Jones    3.2%
  • S&P              8.2%
  • Nasdaq         9.4%

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