viruses

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NEW STRAIN OF ERICA VIRUS

Previous messages containing the Erica Virus all were of the same profile picture, as seen in the bottom image. The top image is a message that I received in my inbox, of a very similar layout, asking to try a game, mentioning “Erica”, etc. Hovering over the username reveals that it is a blank blog. A bot.

This is a virus, do NOT go on their blog.

Protect your information and computer or other device. Signal boost. Spread the news like wildfire.

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Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to try licking a cactus or any bacteria-coated surface. That is, unless they’re actually tasty popsicles. This colorful series of Dangerous Popsicles, frozen treats shaped like cacti and viruses, are the work of San Francisco-based designer and artist Wei Li.

“Dangerous Popsicles create a unique sensory experience. Before tasting with your tongue, you first taste with your eyes and mind. The popsicles are nothing but water and sugar, but ideas of deadly viruses and the spikiness of cacti are enough to stimulate your senses, even before your first taste.”

The popsicles are made with two and four-part silicone molds which were created using shapes that were first designed using 3D software and then 3D-printed using an Objet Connex 500 3D printer.

Visit the Dangerous Popsicles website and Instructables page to learn more about this awesome project.

[via Design Taxi]

VIRUS THAT COMES FROM SKYPE

Okay so it doesn’t actually come from skype, but it picks an individual user and sends a link to retrieve a “video message” from skype. when you click the link, it tells you to log into your skype account. Now, this login screen is completely different from the regular skype login screen. After you log in, it tells you to download something. Once you do that, it says that your computer cannot view the video. 
At that point, I realized that I had messaged the friend that I had gotten it from, and they told me it was a virus, so I went and deleted what I had downloaded, but it was too late. I went and changed my skype password as well. 
Shortly after that, a window taking up the entire screen popped up along with an alarm, and told me that I had to purchase a new product key for my laptop or I couldn’t use it anymore. It told me to enter in my windows account information. I knew this was apart of a virus so I entered in all the wrong information from my name, email, and birthday (I think I put the year as 1978 or something) and it still let me go on without red flagging me of anything. It told me that I could purchase three different kind of product keys. The cheapest one was $36.99 for three months. I restarted my computer at that point because I couldn’t get rid of the window. 
After restarting, I didn’t get the window again, but when I got onto skype, it wouldn’t allow me to send messages to certain people and would keep the messages from sending for up to 15 minutes, then allow me to talk to them again. 
After about thirty minutes of that, my computer restarted. When I tried to turn it on, it gave me a message that said “please enter reboot code or insert reboot media and press any key.” I tried to press every key I could think of, but if I got the key wrong or just pressed any key imaginable (exect ctrl+alt+del, which just restarted the laptop and gave me the same page) it would add another of the same message to the page. 
That’s when I called a tech to look at my laptop, and he said that the virus had completely ERASED MY ENTIRE HARD DRIVE.
Well the first window was right about one thing, if I didn’t pay them at least $36.99, I wouldn’t be able to use my laptop anymore.
IF YOU GET ANY “VIDEO MESSAGE” LINK ON SKYPE, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE ASK THE PERSON YOU GOT IT FROM IF THEY ACTUALLY SENT YOU ONE BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE. IT WILL SAVE YOUR LAPTOP.

So I just noticed something...

This is a virus

Does that look familiar?

How about now?


So, it looks to me like the designs of Prospit and Derse are based on a virus.
This also makes sense with the dreamselves being on Prospit and Derse, as viruses carry DNA, and the players are basically the genetic material for creating the new universe. So Skaia could be viewed as a cell (or the incipisphere is the cell, with Skaia as the nucleus), being infected by viruses….and there are probably more analogues to cellular biology and reproduction somewhere in there…

Has this been mentioned before? I’m sure someone must have thought of this already at some point…

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The Department of Extraordinary Embroidery is delighted to present further proof that Science + Art = Awesome. Plainville, CT-based artist Alicia Watkins creates cross-stitch illustrations of bacteria, germs, viruses and microbes. Ordinarily you wouldn’t want to come into contact with any of these microscopic beasties, but these embroidered versions are 100% delightful instead of infectious.

Watkins sells her sciencetastic needlework via her Etsy shop, Watty’s Wall Stuff and Cross Stitchery. Head over there to check out many more examples of her crafty geekery, including lots of cross-stitch patterns and kits.

[via Colossal]

New Illustration - Alicia Watkins

It’s not every day we get to talk about embroidery! Connecticut-based artist Alicia Watkins created this hoop (above) for a story on editing DNA in human embryos. 

Alicia’s work on cross-stitched microorganisms is a friendlier twist on the alien forms of viruses and germs we often see in photographs. You can check out more on her site here.

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Laura Splan, from the series Doilies, 2004 (source)

Doilies is a series of computerized machine embroidered doilies. The design of each doily is based on a different viral structure [SARS, HIV, Herpes virus, Influenza virus, and Hepadna/Hepatitis B virus, respectively]. The lace doily has traditionally referenced designs and motifs from nature. Furthermore, these decorative objects would be heirlooms, handed down from one generation to the next. The work explores the "domestication” of microbial and biomedical imagery. Many recent events, epidemics, and commercial products have brought this imagery into our living rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. Bio-terrorism, SARS, and antibacterial soaps alike have all heightened our awareness of the microbial world. Doilies serve as a metaphor for the way we have adapted our everyday lives to these now everyday concerns. Here domestic artifacts and heirlooms manifest the psychological heredity of our cultural anxieties.“

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Fragile Viruses

Viruses are scary enough as small micro-organisms that we cannot see with the naked eye, but artist Luke Jerram takes these deadly microscopic agents, and blows them up, literally, as glass sculptures.

Instead of the usual cartoons found in textbooks, these viruses can be examined from various angles, to understand their structures better. Great detail is put into each piece, making the glass sculptures practically exact replicas. Aesthetically, the work is beautiful, and few would even know that what they are admiring are the structures of an HIV virus, E. coli or even Smallpox

The sculptures allow viewers to better understand, or at least to finally see for themselves, what attacks their immune (or other) systems, and especially what causes them to be sick. Of course, this does not mean that it will be easier to fight a virus if you know what it looks like, but for science, the sculptures are a great learning tool to understand the virus’ structures, and possibly even to recognize them better when looking under a microscope.

-Anna Paluch

Wasp uses Virus to Genetically Modify Butterfly

Many of us are familiar with the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), but a research group is France has identified the genes for C-type lectins in this species most likely originated from parasitic wasps that are known to lay their eggs in the caterpillars of this species. These proteins are carbohydrate binding proteins with a large number of roles in cells. 

Parasitic wasps are common in the insect world, with virtually all Lepidopteran species being targets for parasitism. It is believed that ~100 million years ago a wasp ancestor domesticated the bracovirus, and now these parasitic wasps employ it as a biological weapon against the caterpillars. The virus is produced in the wasp’s ovaries and acts as a vector for horizontal gene transfer (HGT). In the eukaryotic world, it is fairly rare for such an exchange of DNA between organisms.

The virus has long since lost its ability to generate a successful capsid, and as a result is reliant on the wasp’s ovaries for replication. The virus is injected into the host along with the wasp’s eggs where the domesticated virus promotes the growth of wasp progeny within the caterpillar by inhibiting its immune system. Each wasp lineage has its own set of virulence determinants encoded by the virus.

Integration of viral DNA may occur occasionally, if a caterpillar host manages to successfully defend itself against a parasitic attack or if the wasp lays its eggs in the wrong target. In both cases the caterpillar may go onto to develop into a moth or butterfly in possession of viral and wasp derived genes as seen in the monarch butterfly.


Figure showing the hypothesised process for HGT to occur between wasps and Lepidopteran species (Source)

Source: Plos Genetics -  Recurrent Domestication by Lepidoptera of Genes from Their Parasites Mediated by Bracoviruses

Lytic vs. Lysogenic Viral Replication Cycles! Remember that lysogenic is the longer, sneaky cycle, but (often) the lysogenic cycle will be triggered into the lytic cycle.

Be sure to check out all our science GIFs here for your studyblrs, teacher websites, presentations, or general amusement! Just please keep our name on there and don’t sell them! :D

Frightening! E. Coli Bacteria Can Transfer Antibiotic Resistance To Other Bacteria

Colistin is the antibiotic that doctors use as a last resort to wipe out dangerous bacteria.

“It’s really been kept as the last drug in the locker when all else has failed,” says Dr. Jim Spencer, a senior lecturer in microbiology at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

But now Spencer reports that E. coli bacteria, which can cause kidney failure as well as urinary tract and other infections, have changed. In an article published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, Spencer and his co-authors tell how researchers in China have found that the bacteria not only are increasingly resistant to colistin but have developed a mechanism to transfer resistance to neighboring bacteria. And those bacteria don’t even have to be the same strain as those that originally developed the resistance. So bacteria that cause other health problems could be affected.

Read the full story here. 

Image: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Huge Viruses Are Shaking Up The Tree of Life

Pandoraviruses are challenging some long-held biological beliefs. These newly-discovered beasts are larger, in size and in genetic complexity, than any other virus that we know of (details on the graphic are below). They are not as doom-worthy as their name implies, but they may have opened a box full of new biological forms that will challenge what we think of when we say “alive” or “virus”. For the scientific low-down on pandoraviruses, check out this great article by Carl Zimmer.

Giant viruses of all kinds seem to be more common than we’ve ever imagined. It makes sense, in a way. Just like there is not a clear transition point between any two species, the complexity of life should also exist on a continuum from the small (bacterial viruses) to the complex (us). So maybe these little guys aren’t so surprising after all?

I drew up a little graphic (above) to show just how large and complex pandoraviruses are compared to other life forms. 

  • Pandoraviruses are huge. A human egg cell is about 100 millionths of a meter across. An E. coli is about 50 times smaller. But pandoraviruses (which dwarf flu viruses) are nearly as big as the bacterium! 
  • The area of the circles show how many genes each type of cell contains. The human genome has about 20,000 genes, while E. coli has about 4,500. Compared to a measly 13 genes in the flu virus, pandoraviruses have about 2,500!, almost none of which seem to be related to known genes.
  • The size of the genome, in bases, is where it gets weird. The human egg’s genome, at 3 billion bases, dwarfs them all. E. coli and pandoraviruses have around 4 and 2 million, respectively. And there’s a tiny little single pixel in there representing the 13,588 letters of the influenza genome.

I can’t wait to see what other kinds of life/not life we find inside this Pandora’s box.

Viruses Reconsidered

“The discovery of more and more viruses of record-breaking size calls for a reclassification of life on Earth.”

The theory of evolution was first proposed based on visual observations of animals and plants. Then, in the latter half of the 19th century, the invention of the modern optical microscope helped scientists begin to systematically explore the vast world of previously invisible organisms, dubbed “microbes” by the late, great Louis Pasteur, and led to a rethinking of the classification of living things.

In the mid-1970s, based on the analysis of the ribosomal genes of these organisms, Carl Woese and others proposed a classification that divided living organisms into three domains: eukaryotes, bacteria, and archaea. (See “Discovering Archaea, 1977,” The Scientist, March 2014) Even though viruses were by that time visible using electron microscopes, they were left off the tree of life because they did not possess the ribosomal genes typically used in phylogenetic analyses. And viruses are still largely considered to be nonliving biomolecules—a characterization spurred, in part, by the work of 1946 Nobel laureate Wendell Meredith Stanley, who in 1935 succeeded in crystallizing the tobacco mosaic virus. Even after crystallization, the virus maintained its biological properties, such as its ability to infect cells, suggesting to Stanley that the virus could not be truly alive.

Recently, however, the discovery of numerous giant virus species—with dimensions and genome sizes that rival those of many microbes—has challenged these views. In 2003, my colleagues and I announced the discovery of Mimivirus, a parasite of amoebae that researchers had for years considered a bacterium. With a diameter of 0.4 micrometers (μm) and a 1.2-megabase-pair DNA genome, the virus defied the predominant notion that viruses could never exceed 0.2 μm. Since then, a number of other startlingly large viruses have been discovered, most recently two Pandoraviruses in July 2013, also inside amoebas. Those viruses harbor genomes of 1.9 million and 2.5 million bases, and for more than 15 years had been considered parasitic eukaryotes that infected amoebas.

Now, with the advent of whole-genome sequencing, researchers are beginning to realize that most organisms are in fact chimeras containing genes from many different sources—eukaryotic, prokaryotic, and viral alike—leading us to rethink evolution, especially the extent of gene flow between the visible and microscopic worlds. Genomic analysis has, for example, suggested that eukaryotes are the result of ancient interactions between bacteria and archaea. In this context, viruses are becoming more widely recognized as shuttles of genetic material, with metagenomic studies suggesting that the billions of viruses on Earth harbor more genetic information than the rest of the living world combined. These studies point to viruses being at least as critical in the evolution of life as all the other organisms on Earth.

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Viruses can spread through the air in two ways: inside large droplets that fall quickly to the ground (red), or inside tiny droplets that float in the air (gray). In the first route, called droplet transmission, the virus can spread only about 3 to 6 feet from an infected person. In the second route, called airborne transmission, the virus can travel 30 feet or more.

Ebola In The Air: What Science Says About How The Virus Spreads

Illustration credit: Adam Cole/NPR