1928 - Alderson High School - 1968



Intelligent Bacteria
Where Have All The Butterflies Gone?

Alice Ann Asbury - MAY 27, 2013

I recently reported that Boozer is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in mathematics, a degree that he found advertised on the back of a Rice Krispies box. I donít know how well his quest is going, but I know he has decided that if he fails to obtain a Ph.D., he plans to enroll in college, that is, if he can somehow ďget in.Ē I visited with him recently and he told me that he hasnít completely made up his mind about a major and he said he recently visited one university. Boozer said that while there, he visited various departments and spoke with faculty. He told me of one interesting conversation with a biology professor. I found the conversation intriguing, so Iíll pass it along.

Boozer: Professor, I may enroll at this university in the near future and I am thinking of majoring in mathematics and I may even take a second major in biology.

Professor: Welcome, how can I help?

Boozer: Tell me a little about what you have been doing in your lab.

Professor: Well, I just made a startling discovery!

Boozer: What do you mean?

Professor: As you may know we biologists often study bacteria of certain types by placing them in a Petri dish.

Boozer: A Petri dish?

Professor: You know what a Petri dish is donít you?

Boozer: I think so, but explain it to me to make sure.

Professor: A Petri dish is a small round clear plastic dish three to four inches in diameter with sidewalls about ĺ of an inch high that can be covered with a flat snap-on lid. The dish is filled with a liquid that enables the bacteria colony to survive and grow.

Boozer: Ok, so what have you discovered?

Professor: I know you will find this hard to believe, but yesterday I placed a culture of bacteria in a Petri dish filled with an appropriate liquid and I discovered that these bacteria are intelligent.

Boozer: Intelligent?

Professor: Yes, and I have discovered more than that. These bacteria have divided themselves into groups that live at different locations in the Petri dish.

Boozer: Ok, but what does that prove?

Professor: Well, I discovered that the bacteria have organized themselves in such a way that indicates that they can communicate with each other. In fact, everything indicates that each group of bacteria may even have a primitive decision-making body and maybe even a government.

Boozer: Oh, come on Professor, have you been smoking those ďleft handedĒ cigarettes? How in the world could you draw that conclusion? The bacteria are so small, how could you tell anything about them?

Professor: By watching them carefully under a high powered microscope, I have noticed individual bacteria traveling between the groups. When an envoy from one group meets with another group all hell sometimes breaks loose and one group will go to what appears to be war with the other.

Boozer told me at this point he left the Professorís lab to attend to another matter. He said he trusted the Professor and his academic integrity, but he wanted to think about what the Professor had said. He really needed to decide if he could actually believe him. Intelligent bacteria?

The next morning Boozer said he returned to the Professorís lab. He wanted to learn more.

Boozer: Good morning, Professor. Tell me more about what you have learned about the bacteria.

Professor: I am sorry to say it, but the bacteria are dead.

Boozer: Dead? How come? Did the groups go to war with each other and kill themselves off or were the bacteria a victim of Global Warming?

Professor: Global Warming?

Boozer: Yes, we all know the world is getting warmer and even now itís really hot in various places. In fact, scientists tell us that it will get so hot in the future that a bird will have to grab a worm with a pot-holder to pull it from the ground.

Professor: Yes, I am aware of what is happening with Global Warming, but there are also other concerns that we must be aware of.

Boozer: Other concerns?

Professor: Yes, the bacteria died, probably because of over population and pollution.

Boozer: Population and Pollution?

Professor: Yes, a Petri dish is a closed and limited environment. The bacteria, even though they appeared to be intelligent, just grew and grew their numbers without thinking of the consequences. I guess they were so occupied with fighting over government matters and with fighting among themselves that the consequences of population growth and pollution were never considered. They just grew and grew their numbers until their living space became extremely crowded. I guess itís at this point that the waste they produced must have turned their environment toxic and they died.

Boozer: Ok, so what? Theyíre just bacteria.

Professor: Canít you see?

Boozer: No, not really. What does it mean?

Professor: Oh, come on man, think about it. Where have all the butterflies gone?


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