[Offtopic] improbable research

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Sun Sep 2 02:18:45 EST 2007

An Astrology Chart for Bacteria

By Karen Hopkin, Ph.D.
Journal of NIH Research, Washington, DC

Astrological science holds that the differential monthly positioning of 
the stars and planets controls human mood (DSM-IIIR), personality 
(Goodman, 1972) and even fate (Reagan, 1982).

But what of the daily variations in the location of the star that is 
responsible for all life on earth .. the sun? Might this simple diurnal 
cycle affect the lives of more primitive, shorter-lived organisms, such as 

If the relative hourly positions of the Sun and Earth do influence 
bacterial fate, a sample daily horoscope for the common laboratory bug, 
Escherichia coli,4 might be something like this. The numbers indicate the 
time of day (am and pm) when a bacterium was born. 

Aries (12 to 1)

A long dark stranger may be swimming into your life. Might be a good idea 
to eliminate any viral sequences from your genome. This special someone 
has an F plasmid with your name on it. Excess oxygen may be in your 
future. Crank up the superoxide dismutase and hoard vitamins C and E. 

Taurus (1 to 2)

You will develop ampicillin resistance. Take advantage of your new beta 
lactam splitting talents and venture into drugged media. Look for a nice, 
tetracycline-resistant mate and start a multi-drug resistant family. 

Gemini (2 to 3)

A creep with wandering pilli will make a pass at you. Why not take all 
their genes and leave an empty mass of lipoprotein? You're feeling motile, 
but should avoid the south side of the petri dish. Don't be intimidated by 

Cancer (3 to 4)

Your stars are definitely off course, and you will likely be engulfed by a 
hungry euglena. But every cloud has a silver lining-you will develop a 
trusting relationship with its mitochondria. 

Leo (4 to 5)

Tough times ahead-minimal media at best. Why not sporulate and try again 
in a month or two? A hearty virus will sweep through your parent colony. 
Rest and get plenty of complex sugars to avoid this nasty little phage. 

Virgo (5 to 6)

Great financial news - New England BioLabs is hot for your plasmid. But 
things slow down when your home plate gets shoved into the cold room for 
two weeks. Use the time to do some badly needed repairs to your cell wall. 

Libra (6 to 7)

You're feeling mischievous and consider ruining a grad student's thesis by 
inexplicably altering your phosphofructokinase expression. Sure, it might 
be fun to wreck a scientist's career, but can you handle the extra glucose-
1,6 bisphosphate? Be sure to get rid of excess acid before visiting your 

Scorpio (7 to 8)

Rich medium supplemented with casamino acids is in your future. Rev up the 
Embden-Myerhoff pathway! Avoid sticking you chemoreceptors into other 
cells' business. Some of your more sensitive friends may be experiencing 
pre-S phase-syndrome and are best left alone. 

Sagittarius (8 to 9)

Beware lab techs promising golden opportunities. You'll only get a 
nanometer-thick coating of precious metal before you take a little trip to 
the scanning electron microscope. Prepare to spend some time caring for a 
friend in heat shock. 

Capricorn (9 to 10)

Isn't it time you grow up and divide? Your friends have all set up 
colonies of their own. So stop living off the nutrients released by your 
dead relatives, and GET A LIFE! Live or lyse, my friend. 

Aquarius (10 to 11)

An urge to rediscover your roots sends you on a trip to your homeland - a 
young student's lower bowel. Travel should be easy: Microbiologists rarely 
wash their hands before eating. 

Pisces (11 to 12)

Ethanol has become your main source of carbon, you soused bug. Keep it up 
and you may wake up wondering how you ever acquired the ability to 
fluoresce. While you're thinking of it, stock up on catalase - where 
there's oxygen there's peroxide. Divide early and often! 

Copyright © 1997 The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR). All rights 
reserved. <http://www.improb.com/airchives/paperair/volume3/v3i6/bact.htm>

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