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The Microbial Academy of Sciences: What Bacteria Can Discover That We Can’t

Other than basic stuff like the Earth rotating around the sun and E=MC2, how much do you know about the universe? Most people would say: not very much. But if you’re a theoretical physicist, you probably know quite a bit more--but still not that much; most of the mysteries of the universe still elude us. That is, argues experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats, a function of the human brain. The way our brains work inherently color, and perhaps limit, the way we understand the universe. That’s why he’s convened the Microbial Academy of Sciences, to see how bacteria think about physics and the cosmos.

The Academy, which has billions of "researchers" is a really just rows and rows of petri dishes full of brackish water and bacteria which have been placed on top of a monitor which shows images from the Hubble Telescope. "Because cyanobacteria can perform photosynthesis," Keats says, "they’ll be able to detect patterns of starlight just as human scientists do with their eyes. The difference will not be in their methodology, but rather in the conclusions they reach."

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