Archive for July, 2011

Outline for a Science Fiction short story: on evolution in action

July 4, 2011

Prompt:  New Scientist 25 June 2011 p 25

Extreme Fungi

Dishwashers have spawned some exceptionally tough fungi.  A survey of 189 dishwashers found that over half contained infectious “black yeasts” that, unlike all other known fungi, could survive heat, salt, strong detergents and both acid and alkaline water (Fungal Biology doi:10.1016/j.funbio.2011.04.007)

Confirmation : : P. Zalar, M. Novak, G.S. de Hoog and N. Gunde-Cimerman are the authors, and one of the black fungi (Exophiala dermatitidis) has caused fatal infections in  healthy people, more often is involved in pneumonia in people with cystic fibrosis.  It “is rarely isolated from nature”.


find out writing style and appearance of news sources:  New Scientist, The New York Times, local newspapers, science/tech news websites  …

Dig out articles on unexplained fish kills, bird deaths, local government claiming success in rat control, responses to disease outbreaks.

Write sequence of news stories : 

Major city happy  fewer rats reported;

Seal deaths – was it the oil spill?  Conflicting claims;

Infant pneumonia deaths increase in ghetto – poor education of parents or landlords to blame?;

How to get that stubborn black mould off without damaging the tiles;

Is air conditioning the link?  Increase in hospital admissions;

Sewerage workers OH&S strike as rare fungus causes 5 deaths;

CDC investigates rise in fungal illnesses;

New York stock exchange closed as deadly spores detected in air conditioning;

Fungal Biology link – protestors smash dishwashers in street;

Health Department  advises caution in use of mould removal chemicals;

Scientists developing phages for biological control;

“Clean air” conditioners marketed;

Low-evolution dishwashers developed;

We learned from the dishwasher plague: antimicrobial cleansers removed from general sale ….