December 15, 2016

Ewwww... Credit: William Grootonk / Flickr Creative Commons

Think for a minute about all the people stacked on top of each other in cities – not to mention dogs, cats, ferrets, rats, and cockroaches… and you’ll start to realize: this is microbial heaven. Researcher Holly Bik was part of a NYU study that went looking for this invisible, microbial world on ATM machines in New York City.

Three Takeaways:

  • Trillions of microbes live inside your body. “It’s kind of a little bit disturbing,” Bik says. “I try not to think about it too much, but every surface we touch, actually our bodies, the human body, is covered in microbes - your skin, your gut, your mouth, your eyes have mites in them. Microbes are everywhere.”
  • The scientists found the DNA signatures of chicken and fish that people have eaten, pets people have touched, and skin they’ve shed - all on an ATM keypad.
  • Every city has its own “urban microbiome.” Researchers are working on better understanding how the microbial worlds in cities might differ.

More Reading:

innovation hub, ATMs, Body & Mind, Body and Mind, microbiome, Holly Bik

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