The Beauty of E. Coli
Carl Zimmer is a writer for the New York Times and is making the rounds promoting his new book, Microcosm: The Beauty of E. Coli. He gives a talk in one of the best podcasts I've listened to all year, making it's way to my earbuds via Real Science. I first heard an interview with him on The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe and it became clear that E. Coli, as an area of research, has made substantial contributions to science. It's fascinating that E. Coli communicate with one another, that they self-organize, their mode of propulsion (yeah, it's the flagellum with a twist...literally), that E. Coli clones exhibit independent behaviors, and that they are altruistic to the point of blowing themselves up to preserve their "colony". And E. Coli have been providing fantastic lessons for evolution (also see here for the nitty gritty).
Go check out the podcast - it's a free hour of real science. You'll be glad you did.
And if you feel like flagellating yourself with long strands of E. Coli, then you're ready for the hard stuff. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Photo by Eric Erbe, Colorization by Christopher Pooley.