Saturday, March 1, 2008

just plain weird: bacteria induce rain

yeah, you read that right, a recent study has found that ice crystal nuclei* of bacterial origin are the most efficient seed crystals for making the clouds that give us rain.

am i the only person who thinks that is flat out weird?

bacteria make bits of stuff that are an excellent substrate on which to grow ice crystals for the purpose of forming clouds.

* nuclei here refers to the center bits of ice, not the genome-holding center bit of a cell. bacteria don't have nuclei, if i remember my high school biology correctly.


Tom said...

It is strange, so does that mean that planets without bacterial life cannot have rain?

TheBehst said...

It's very logical. Strange, but logical.

shaun said...

the article said that both dust and smoke could also induce rain, but that the bacteria were best at it, so lifeless planets could still have rain.

another interesting question, though is what impact human pesticide/herbicide practices have on rainfall. the article indicated that the same bacteria that create the ice nuclei would be considered pests, since they create ice nuclei, which leads to the plants they are living in being damaged

it seems there is an entire second generation of environmental engineering waiting to be discovered once our models are good enough and once our environmental engineering schools get over their disdain for humans.