Forget germ that eats arsenic; check out the one that makes chips

Social-networking, warring, adaptive bacteria redirected for IT work

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Think the bacteria NASA found that eats arsenic was a big deal? Sure, if you're a NASA astrobiologist looking for markers of life as it might exist on other planets.

If not and you looked at some of the pictures of Mono Lake, where NASA found the germ, you might just figure it ate arsenic as part of its schtick -- a way to fit in at a place as strange as Mono Lake.

If you're not a fan of bacterial-catastrophe SF novels such as Vitals by Greg Bear, you might not be that impressed with bacteria unless you currently have a cold.

Get impressed.

Not only can the germs you try to leave in the bathroom probably beat you at Soduku, bacteria and other microscopic beasties can do a whole host of useful computing- or engineering-related things if you can tame the constant inter-species combat that may actually control the spread of any individual bacterium on your skin or in your body.

Among other things they can pass messages to each other chemically to coordinate joint attacks on enemies or food, and, possibly, build computer-processor circuits at nano scale if they're given just the right incentive and sets of tools.

They can also, it turns out, eat giant sunken passenger liners, in this case developing into a previously unknown sub-species of bug that eats iron oxide, of which the HMS Titanic has no shortage.

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