The process that the viruses use to infect cells has been observed in new detail for the first time by researchers at the University of Texas
, and as you might expect, it is super creepy. Keep reading for a video simluation of the process
, in which the virus unfolds six hairlike feelers from its body
-- like some terrible, invading War of the Worlds
mech -- as it attaches to a cell, and then uses them to walk along the cell surface, probing and prodding until it finds the perfect site to deliver its infectious payload
, turning an unsuspecting cell into a living nightmare death machine built only to create more viruses. On the plus side, this is strangely comforting, as it means that viruses work pretty much exactly like they do in our heads -- in the most troubling manner possible. On the minus side? EUUUUUUGGGGHHHH.
Of all the gross things that the human body can produce -- and let's face it folks, we can get pretty gnarly sometimes -- mucus has to be near the top of the heap. As unpleasant as it may be, though, that gunk does serve an important purpose, trapping bacteria and viruses before they can further infect your body. Now, MIT researchers are exploring the possibility that mucus could have the same disease preventing properties outside of your body, preventing bacteria from forming fortresses called biofilms.
We've all found ourselves ducking friends, loved ones, significant others and co-workers when they develop a sniffle or two. We're not the only species to show that rather mercenary brand of common sense, though. A recent study shows that the common house finch, usually an intensely social avian, can tell when other finches are ailing and will avoid sick members of their own species
to prevent the spread of disease.
You know what's not scary enough? Anthrax. I don't know when it was, but a disease that creates black ulcers on your skin and has the potential to make your innards basically fall right out of your body lost its capacity to inspire terror. The horrific disease and occasional means of spreading panic in government buildings could get a little bit of its groove back, though, with a new study showing that anthrax bacteria are capable of breeding -- and spreading -- in soil, where the disease was once thought to lay dormant.