If you can't see them, do they exist? Ghosts and Microbes, mysteries abound!
Updated: Aug 3
Good morning class! Our world is full of mystery and billions of amazing beings, some seen but many others are unseen, but does that make them any less real? An ethereal sound in the night, something moved by a spectral hand, unexplained happenings that seemingly have an imperceptible culprit: Ghosts are one of the oldest and most beloved Halloween characters - the thought of the dearly (or not so dearly) departed continuing on after death in our world and causing trouble or fun while invisible is irresistible! The Giants love to shiver at ghostly apparitions from the paranormal in movies like Poltergeist, laugh at everyone’s favorite friendly cartoon ghost Casper, and even sit next to a forever companion at the end of The Haunted Mansion at Disney. Ghost stories are told all around the world and they hold fascination for all ages, and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, even microscopic!
Why would the like to be scared? I don't like to be scared!
Well, you see, the Giants can't always see or explain what they feel and experience. Some can feel the presence of paranormal energy at the bloodiest battle of the Civil War at Gettysburg. Their hair raises and they feel something mysterious, but cannot catch a glimpse of the cause! Other ghostly hauntings of English royalties like Anne Boleyn and Mary, Queen of Scots at the Tower of London leave the humans unsettled because they cannot discern what is causing that haunting feeling. With no real explanation, their imaginations come up with stories about ghosts and all sorts of ideas.
There are Giants that try to find ways to see ghosts. They come up with all kinds of devices to find the things that they cannot see, PKE monitors, EMF detectors and ghost containment fields. While some of these may seem fantastical, it was this kind of curiosity and ingenuity that only in recent history that allowed the humans to come up with mechanisms and processes to find us microbes! For centuries, they had attempted to describe the biological diversity and workings of our home planet, but it seemed to be an impossible feat, there was so much that they couldn't see. To them, we existed in an unseen world; the world of microbiology!
While people have told ghost stories since the beginning of storytelling to explain what they couldn't see, it’s really only been in the last few hundred years that they’ve even proved microbes are real.
Of course we're real, how could they not know about us! There's so many cool microbes that affect them in so many ways!
Yes, but for them, so many microbes go unnoticed, undiscovered simply because they don’t know what to look for or have the technology to detect us.
They've estimated that the Earth is home to 10 million species. However, we know that when you take the microbial world into account and look through a microscopic lens, this estimate is only 1% of the total species that inhabit this planet; that’s right, taking into account us microbes, we are talking about 1 trillion species on earth! To put that in a little bit of perspective, if every Giant who has ever lived were a ghost, that’s only 100 billion lost souls they don't even come close to our microbial populations!
Like ghost hunters using spectral energy detectors and other devices to see into a world beyond that which their eyes can discern, scientists started to figure out ways to see microbes. By growing them on agar, commonly known as media, (a semi-gelatinous substance filled with sugars, and a carbon food for our microbial friends).
The "Great Plate Count Anomaly"
The Giants had opened the creaky door to the haunted mansion of the microscopic world, but many microbes can be picky eaters, they won’t grow on media without the optimal conditions. For some, the optimal conditions means they won’t grow alone or need very specific nutrients, making it nearly impossible to discover them when they don’t know what we like to eat.
After hundreds of years of using this tactic, despite making changes to the agar to meet the microbes’ needs, it’s thought that they can only culture 1% of all microbial species. In microbiology, this is called the “great plate count anomaly.” Which is a little spooky for the Giants to have so much be unknown to them!
Like most discoveries, they focused first on unraveling the mysteries that haunt and torture them! The things that hurt them and make them sick. Their curiosity and drive to understand and remedy illness is a big reason they started looking into our microscopic world, but these pathogens and ghouls are likely just a small portion of what exists out there.
Hey, we're not all out to get the Giants! We do a lot to help them, in fact, they couldn't survive without us!
You're right Mia! The Giants just don't understand it all, but they are getting better at discovering new ways to find us and other specters. The majority of microbes and ghosts go unnoticed because they don’t yet have the means to discover them, but that feeling of a presence of paranormal activity or a metabolic activity that can’t be explained (commensals, and the spirit world), will keep them striving to discover more about us.
Will their discoveries lead them to scary or benevolent ghostly and microbial beings? Well, with billions to uncover, it's likely to be a bit of both, isn't it?
For More Monstrous Microbes Check Out These Blogs!