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This Science Experiment Will Run for 500 Years

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Feb 11, 2019 8:00 AM 2+ mon ago

This Science Experiment Will Run for 500 Years

Glass vials containing bacteria for the 500-year experiment are shown. The spores are dried down on silicon bead desiccators before being sealed. Ulrich et al., PLOS One, 2018

Some types of bacteria are known for their ability to survive extreme conditions, from high temperatures to chemical attacks to dehydration. But for how long are they really viable? In 2014, a team of scientists dried a collection of bacteria, sealed those specimens away in small glass vials and in 500 years, some researcher will have the honor of bringing the long-lived study to a close.

The five-century-long experiment was conceived by researchers at Scotland's University of Edinburgh, who teamed up with German and American scientists in hopes of advancing humankind's understanding of bacteria longevity. A major catch? None of them (or their great-grandchildren) will be around to see the results.

In an email interview, ...

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