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Bacteria To Protect Against Quakes

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the shake-them-cilia dept.

Biotech 81

Roland Piquepaille writes "If you live near the sea, chances are high that your home is built over sandy soil. And if an earthquake strikes, deep and sandy soils can turn to liquid with disastrous consequences for the buildings built above them. Now, US researchers have found a way to use bacteria to steady buildings against earthquakes by turning these sandy soils into rocks. 'Starting from a sand pile, you turn it back into sandstone,' the chief researcher explained. It is already possible to inject chemicals into the ground to reinforce it, but this technique can have toxic effects on soil and water. In contrast, the use of common bacteria to 'cement' sands has no harmful effects on the environment. So far this method is limited to labs and the researchers are working on scaling their technique. Here are more references and a picture showing how unstable ground can aggravate the consequences of an earthquake."

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Now to pay for it (1)

rtobyr (846578) | more than 7 years ago | (#18151976)

I wonder if my homeowner's insurance will cover this...

Re:Now to pay for it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18152652)

the first thing that came through my mind was "quad damage"

I hope they are not too successful (3, Funny)

LM741N (258038) | more than 7 years ago | (#18151984)

"researchers are working on scaling their technique"

I hope their technique doesn't scale too far. Its hard to make sand castles out of sandstone without power tools.

Re:I hope they are not too successful (-1, Redundant)

somersault (912633) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152048)

I for one welcome our new sewage-feeding, rapidly evolving, stone-creating, beach ruining overlords. Soon the sahara desert will be one gigantic parking lot/skatepark.

Re:I hope they are not too successful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18153016)

Is it just me, or does anybody else think of ice nine when they read this?

Welcome to Malibu Rockpile. (2, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18153386)

Gazooks, what if this gets loose on the beaches. It's a cinch people with eroding beaches threatening buildings will be injecting this stuff along shorelines.

No harmful effects (4, Insightful)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152002)

In contrast, the use of common bacteria to 'cement' sands has no harmful effects on the environment.
Didn't they say the same about Cane Toads [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:No harmful effects (3, Insightful)

beavis88 (25983) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152050)

And kudzu!

Re:No harmful effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18155546)

Don't you mean kizda?

Re:No harmful effects (3, Insightful)

Alicat1194 (970019) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152062)

You'd think at the very least it would change the water drainage patterns in the area (and thus the water table, local waterways etc, etc)

Re:No harmful effects (1)

picob (1025968) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152160)

It is a common error to think that something that's biological can't be toxic. That is not the truth per se. In this case however, I am tempted to believe that the use of bacteria isn't harmful. While making cement, the bacteria entrap themselves in calcium. This ensures that the bacteria only reside in one location.

Re:No harmful effects (3, Insightful)

AlexanderDitto (972695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152268)

Won't somebody please think of the worms?!

Oh humans! Messing with things we don't know aren't harmful. Things like this are nearly always used before they've had a chance to be researched thoroughly, leading to something going horribly, horribly wrong, like giant mutating monsters or zombies or alien attacks.

Maybe I've just been watching too many horror flicks.... Either way, I should hope these people would proceed with extreme caution. I don't like the thought of the soil turning into one big slab of sheet rock. Where would my food come from?

Re:No harmful effects (1)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152554)

You will inevitably get a solid lump with active bacteria at the sandstone/sand boundary. Whilst the bacteria at the centre are effectively trapped those at the boundary are capable of movement. Whole sandbeds could be solidified. As one poster commented this, at the very minimum, will affect the flow of water. Sand is very porous, sandstone only mildly so.

The enormous difference between using bacteria and some non-organic agent, is that bacteria produce more bacteria and there is no saying whether you may end up with runaway growth. I'm sure they'll test it first but 'it worked fine in dev' has been heard only too often over the smoking remains of misapplied science.

Re:No harmful effects (1)

ForestGrump (644805) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152170)

What's so wrong with toads? They're harmless! Let me quote Harvey Denton:

You may give a toad a wart, but a toad may not give a wart to you.
-Harvey Denton, League of Gentlemen
http://www.lofg.com/character_profile.php?profile_ id=37 [lofg.com]

Re:No harmful effects (1)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | more than 7 years ago | (#18158388)

yes, but cane toads do tend to eat or poison all native wildlife and they may not give you a wart, but they might give you an unpleasant toxic rash.

Re:No harmful effects (1)

newdsfornerds (899401) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152896)

Can you say, "Ice Nine?"

Re:No harmful effects (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 7 years ago | (#18153050)

Don't worry; we'll send the waves of needle snakes and gorillas to clean that up.

Re:No harmful effects (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 7 years ago | (#18153454)

Didn't they say the same about Cane Toads?

Mah. It's bacteria. If it gets too widespread, we'll just spray it with Lysol.

- RG>

Re:No harmful effects (1)

cbacba (944071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18165830)

The wonderful thing about nasty polluting chemicals is they don't reproduce.

The terrifying thing about bacteria is that they not only reproduce, they mutate and adapt while preproducing.

History has quite a few examples of man's attempt to manipulate his environment by using 'organic' or 'natural' means, like introducing new species into an environment with no existing predators.

All actions have consequences, some acceptable, some not. Some are known beforehand, others found out after it's too late.

What if the 'bugs' adapt slightly to sandy loam soils - will it turn them into hardpan or concrete and spread like another plague?

Those damn Americans (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18152076)

There they go again trying to help people. Come on guys - start the 'US' stinks part of the thread. Maybe they aren't putting ENOUGH money into trying to stop earthquakes - or maybe this is secret research in how to CREATE quakes anywhere in the world! BAHAHAHHAHAHAHAA!

Roland again? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18152094)

Come on guys.

Find a new alias.

or maybe (0, Offtopic)

mpoloks (1062844) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152106)

don't build your house on deep and sandy soils

Liquifaction (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152114)

Now if only they'd had this in 1692 [wikipedia.org] . Pirates of the Caribbean would still have a home base.

I was going to imagine a Beowulf cluster of these, but I lost my microscope

Research needed! (4, Interesting)

FredDC (1048502) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152118)

It seems to me that alot of research is needed to investigate possible side effects of such a process. Changing the soil composition is going to have far greater consequences than just protecting against earth quakes! Especially when used over large areas.

Also I wonder how one would contain these bacteria, and stop them from spreading? I don't think we would want our beaches turned to stone...

I am generally very reserved when it comes to releasing living organism where they don't belong and/or trying to alter the environment. There are just too many factors involved, and there is no way we can cover them all!

Re:Research needed! (1)

picob (1025968) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152264)

I am generally very reserved when it comes to releasing living organism where they don't belong and/or trying to alter the environment. There are just too many factors involved, and there is no way we can cover them all!
Why is it that we allow nature to run freely, in an uncontrolled manner, and think that's safe, but when things are done controlled, people get scared? Is this motivated by religion? Yes, there should be investigations on whether it is harmful, but don't be scared without reason.

Re:Research needed! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18152358)

Why is it that we allow nature to run freely, in an uncontrolled manner, and think that's safe, but when things are done controlled, people get scared?

Primarily because humans have proven themselves to be remarkably adept at fucking things up, even when we have the best of intentions.

Nature "running freely" represents an equilibrium reached through 4+ billions years of physical and biological evolution here on planet earth. Now along come the humans, and before we even understand a fraction of a percent of the natural processes at work we start altering all kinds of fundamental systems.

Maybe Kurt Vonnegut was right after all ...

Re:Research needed! (1)

FredDC (1048502) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152736)

but don't be scared without reason

Isn't the fact that so many environmental actions undertaken by humans have turned out to make things worse reason enough to be scared? We barely understand natural processes, or how they affect eachother. It seems to me that interfering with them is not a good idea unless it is absolutely necessary. Turning sand into stone to protect houses against earthquakes is just crazy... There is no emergency!

BUILD SOMEWHERE ELSE!

Re:Research needed! (2, Interesting)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152956)

There's lots of manipulation of nature by the human animal that hasn't spelt doom and gloom. The history of the species is pretty much a showcase of manipulating nature as we evolved away from nomadic lives. Agriculture, housing, infrastructure: all of it is about pushing selected external organisms away while favoring others. Sometimes it's the elimination of all other life like in building a mall or a power plant, sometimes it's the selected cultivation of certain organisms like wheat and beer yeast.

The fact that humans happen to manipulate nature to our needs is as much a consequence of what we do as beavers building dams, mice digging holes, spiders lashing webbing between trees.

Of course there have been a lot of problems with solutions that end up causing problems. But they seem to stand out apart from the millions of successes over millenia of mankind. I mean, "build somewhere else" is easy to say when there's lots of land to be spared, but tell that to Japan (for just one example) with some of the highest population to land area ratios in the world. Attempts to make vulnerable areas less so are simply a matter of intelligent mitigation rather than just throwing your arms up when a whole city could be potentially levelled.

Re:Research needed! (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#18156078)

I think it's a reasonable problem to try to solve. A lot of valuable buildings were built on sand. Moving the building is costly, and it doesn't make that much sense to do so for a sporadic event. My take is that something like this might be a decent way to stabalize such a building depending on how much effort it takes to feed and take care of such bacteria, It make turn out to be very unfeasible simply because you're attempting to keep fussy bacteria alive relatively deep in the earth while maintaining the structural integrity of that earth.

Hmmm, this probably will change the soil permeability (to water) somewhat. Urban areas are already notoriously impermeable to rain so it may make that problem worse.

Re:Research needed! (1)

Nappa48 (1041188) | more than 7 years ago | (#18165278)

BUILD SOMEWHERE ELSE!

Someone please tell this to the New Orleans peoples to save them from yet another disaster, it WILL happen...what idiot decided to build a city under the sea level near the bloody sea at a stormy region?!

Re:Research needed! (4, Informative)

canUbeleiveIT (787307) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152336)

Exactly.

FTA: In contrast, the use of common bacteria to 'cement' sands has no harmful effects on the environment.

That should read "...has no *known* harmful effects..." Introducing species has a long history of unintended consequences. For example:

  • Introduction of mongooses to various islands, resulting in the decimation of native bird populations
  • Introduction of the Nile Perch into Lake Victoria, resulting in the extinction of certain species of chichlids
  • Introduction of African (killer bees) honey bees to N. America
  • etc, etc

Re:Research needed! (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#18153450)

Introduction of African (killer bees) honey bees to N. America


      You mean Brasil. The africanized bees have migrated to N. America all on their own, but they were originally introduced in Brasil in the 50's...

Re:Research needed! (0)

Maniakes (216039) | more than 7 years ago | (#18156876)

Introduction of mongooses to various islands, resulting in the decimation of native bird populations

IIRC, the mongooses killed a lot more than one bird out of ten.

Water handling for one... (2, Interesting)

scsirob (246572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152942)

When making such radical changes to the soil, the first thing to look at is how water is being handled. Sandy soil lets water through, and in fact filters it quite nicely. Rock will keep the water on top, causing all sorts of interesting issues. Like cars and furniture floating thhrough the streets...

Re:Water handling for one... (1)

bjdevil66 (583941) | more than 7 years ago | (#18153642)

There's also the long term effect on the usability of the ground. It doesn't seem that the new sandstone-capped ground would be worth much or very usable after the building upon it is torn down. Unless a structure is going to be there forever, this ground treatment doesn't sound like a very good idea.

Re:Research needed! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18160258)

Hello, I wrote the original story about this on our blog, eggheadblog.ucdavis.edu -- the key point here is nutrients. The bacteria occur naturally in these soils, but without additional nutrients and oxygen, the bacteria don't grow enough to produce the calcite and stick everything together. So it can't run away and turn the world's beaches into concrete.

Jeez (4, Interesting)

dr_d_19 (206418) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152132)

I know people think Quakers [wikipedia.org] are wierd, isn't biological warfare a bit too much?

Sorry.

Re:Jeez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18152500)

"But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand." -Matthew 7:26

Re:Jeez (1)

MindKata (957167) | more than 7 years ago | (#18153254)

"is like a foolish man who built his house on sand"

Yeah but my sand has Bacteria in it to Protect Against Quakes, so its not so foolish.

Re:Jeez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18153618)

Bacterial Sand (+3 vs. Earthquake)

Wierd? (1)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152872)

I didn't know people thought that. But it was the Washington Post, some years ago, that published a cartoon strip suggesting that the Quakers had developed a 40-megaton nuclear plowshare. After that, using CBW to save foolish men who build their houses on the sand should be a no-brainer.

Re:Wierd? (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 7 years ago | (#18153070)

Err... maybe you're thinking of Amish, not Quakers.

No (1)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18153696)

Since I _am_ a Quaker, though not a very good one, and since I have the cartoon somewhere in my files if I could be bothered to look it out, and since the Amish are opposed to irrelevant technology, and since there is an anti-nuclear and WMD campaign called Ploughshare Fund, and since the Amish are a German speaking sect and ploughshare/plowshare is an English word, and since the Quakers in the UK are involved in an anti-submarine campaign called Trident Ploughshares, and for a number of other reasons too long to post here but having to do with my somewhat in-depth knowledge of both Testaments and religious history, I guess I am not.

Big Oil (0, Troll)

sycodon (149926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152162)

no harmful effects on the environment

Just wait, some environmentalist will find *some* impact on *some* aspect of the environment and pronounce it a conspiracy of the Bush Administration and Big Oil.

-------
I accept the Troll mod with pride

Counter Global Warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18152208)

This could be use to battle beach erosion and other problems of global warming. Just pile the sand higher before building any more beach-front property and turn it to sandstone.

If only we could have found (2, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152290)

some microbial life form to prevent Diakatanas [wikipedia.org] instead.

This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedevere.... (2, Funny)

Fromeo (256304) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152402)

Are these bacteria found on sheeps' bladders, by any chance?

Lab workers save from earthquakes (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18152478)

US researchers have found a way to use bacteria to steady buildings against earthquakes [...] So far this method is limited to labs
I work in a lab, so at least I'll be safe at work.
Awesome.

Call me daft but... (2, Insightful)

symes (835608) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152580)

surely the best way forward is to not build houses on sand in the first place?

Re:Call me daft but... (2, Insightful)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152642)

I'd call you daft if you built a castle in a swamp, but you're right that there is a grain of truth in not building your house on sand. It's so dumb to build your house on sand that Jesus even spoke a parable about it for people who listen to his words, but don't actually put them into action.

Re:Call me daft but... (1)

FredDC (1048502) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152646)

That would be logical, but since when are humans logical creatures?

Re:Call me daft but... (1)

Tophe (853490) | more than 7 years ago | (#18153060)

Or at the least, don't build on sand in earthquake prone areas.

Re:Call me daft but... (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18153410)

surely the best way forward is to not build houses on sand in the first place?

Sorry, you must be new here. The way we do it is to encourage the wealthy to build mansions in unreasonable places and then bail them out from disasters with the public treasury, funded by broad-based regressive taxes.

Re:Call me daft but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18153432)

People often take stupid chances that they delude themselves into thinking will turn out in their favor. Then they have the nerve to ask for sympathy when they lose. It's as if a person where to go to Vegas, lament that they lost money, and then expect you to feel sorry for them for their "tragedy."

Though I'm not one to ignore human suffering, I don't give it the same weight when it's obviously self inflicted. San Franciscans who suffer loss in earthquakes and Floridians who get hit by hurricanes simply don't "rate" with me on the tear duct scale. Same with people who lose houses to mudslides when they build their houses on mudslide prone cliffs and houses that get demolished due to liquefied sand.

They knew it was coming. They ignored the probability, not possibility, of the disaster. When a Floridian says, "I couldn't get hurricane insurance and now I've lost everything," with tears in his eyes, I listen for the part where his family is alive and well, and then I simply ignore him as a fool.

Re:Call me daft but... (2, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | more than 7 years ago | (#18154700)

Though I'm not one to ignore human suffering, I don't give it the same weight when it's obviously self inflicted. San Franciscans who suffer loss in earthquakes and Floridians who get hit by hurricanes simply don't "rate" with me on the tear duct scale.

I was unaware that you can choose not to be born in San Francisco or Florida.

They knew it was coming. They ignored the probability, not possibility, of the disaster. When a Floridian says, "I couldn't get hurricane insurance and now I've lost everything," with tears in his eyes, I listen for the part where his family is alive and well, and then I simply ignore him as a fool.

Logically speaking, and discounting hyperbole in "I lost everything", someone who loses everything in a hurricane likely had no significant savings (since otherwise he would still have them). This means he's not capable of relocating, since that requires considerable financial resources. If he does manage to save some money, he likely has larger risks (fire insurance, car insurance, a newer and safer car, health insurance, etc) that should be mitigated first.

Not everyone who fails to plan for every possible disaster does so out of foolishness. Someone might well know he lives in an unsafe place, but if he doesn't have enough money to move, he can't and that's that.

World isn't just [wikipedia.org] , and people who get hit with natural or any other kind of disasters usually don't deserve it, nor are they any more foolish than anyone else. They are just unlucky.

As a wise man once said: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18152582)

I ain't afraid'a no quake.

Well that sucks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18152622)

I have to suck down cipro pills just to play quake?

Escalation (1)

lonechicken (1046406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152662)

What if the bacteria gets out of control. Then we have to generate a bunch of viruses or organism that eat bacteria in order to control their population. Then have things that eat those things. Then, a few levels up, bring in snakes for some reason. Then mongooses... monkeys... robots. It's a slippery slope my friends.

Re:Escalation (1)

Nappa48 (1041188) | more than 7 years ago | (#18165324)

At least it will artificially accelerate robot production.. i will be the architect of the matrix, good bye humans!
You have only yourselves to blame!

ladies and gentleman... the solution (1)

scubstev834 (1068678) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152688)

If we can turn sand/soil into solid ground, we're one step further to dealing with the melting polar ice caps. I forsee a globe of man-built rock land! And if we need some more, we'll just dig it up out of the ever expanding oceans and BOOM! ...instant land. It's all pretty simple really.

Ob Hoenikker (1)

bdonalds (989355) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152698)

Wouldn't it be much simpler to just use a small bit of Ice-9?

potential fix for ground water problems in Boston? (4, Interesting)

DrewMIT (98823) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152882)

Here in Boston, about most of the city's residents and commercial property is sitting on land fill. (At its time, the filling of Boston's Back Bay was the nation's largest public works project ever. The Big Dig is us reclaiming that dubious title) Buildings sit on wooden pilings that are buried in the landfill below the water table. As long as those pilings stay wet, the buildings and streets on top of them are supported. But if and when the water recedes, those pilings start to rot, and bad things can (and likely, will) happen. A century's worth of construction has started to upset groundwater levels. Since most of the landfill material used was sand, I wonder if this discovery could be used to solve the problem here in Boston (and any other cities with similar problems).

This is different (2, Informative)

Reverberant (303566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18154156)

The bacteria process basically improves the shear response of the soil when it's under motion to prevent/reduce liquefaction. The problem in Boston is that buildings in Back Bay and along the Harbor are basically setting on water. Short of soil mixing under each of the foundation, there's not much that you can do to solve the problem you describe.

Re:potential fix for ground water problems in Bost (1)

SimonInOz (579741) | more than 7 years ago | (#18159808)

Wooden piles have worked in Venice for quite some time - I beleive some of them are heading for a thousand years. (And no, the building in Venice aren't sinking - they were, but they've stopped taking water from the aquifer [why does everyone say "underground" aquifer - where the heck else would it be?] and they've stopped sinking. The lagoon's still rising though, and global warming is yet to show much effect).

Re:potential fix for ground water problems in Bost (1)

Fear the Clam (230933) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161082)

Bad things already have begun to happen in the Back Bay. Granite blocks that form the foundations of some brownstones are shifting on those rotting pilings, and a lot of building owners (divided among condos, for the most part) are suddenly realizing that they need to cough up $100,000+ to dig under and replace the building's pilings.

It's an interesting problem for Boston, because they don't want to spend the money to fix things (they're more at the "let's dig more monitoring wells" stage), but those buildings are prime Boston real estate, and that's where a lot of tax money comes from. If the value of those condos drops, so will the tax receipts.

Two years ago I sold my Back Bay condo, and was glad to get out.

No effects on the environment (1)

Polly_Morf (868942) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152998)

"[...]the use of common bacteria to 'cement' sands has no harmful effects on the environment"

Smoking was also considered harmless until people started dying from it. Just hope they test it enough before trying to use it "in the wild".

Slashvertisement... (-1, Redundant)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 7 years ago | (#18153160)

Tagged Slashvertisement for yet another of Roland's blantant hit-whoring slahdot submissions.

Re:Slashvertisement... (2, Insightful)

EMeta (860558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18153712)

...which is something we would care about if he didn't consistently submit interesting articles. Some of them are rather on the fringes of science, certainly, but isn't that the kind of stuff we want to know about perhaps before it's truly viable? He's started linking to the original article in all his submissions, and if he has more information he's put together himself on his site, I'm more than glad to give him some clicks for this service, if I'm interested enough to want to see said extras.

Seriously, more often than not, he submits really interesting stuff. I wish more people would emulate that, not less.

Re:Slashvertisement... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18157182)

Spam is Spam. He is dishonest and embellishes the articles for dramatic effect.

No one has explained about the company who took pre-orders on "Tactile Digital Assistants" but vanished, while Roland was pimping the company with article after article, many featured on Slashdot. Why does this seem not to bother anybody? Why does he not answer for himself when asked?

Roland is a fraud.

I can see the headlines (0, Offtopic)

crakbone (860662) | more than 7 years ago | (#18153562)

Leaning Tower of Pisa saved by E. Coli

OR

SandMan to take penicillin to stop from getting stoned.

Oh great (1)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 7 years ago | (#18154268)

sand-nine.

Blinded by Science (1)

Primal Curve (901000) | more than 7 years ago | (#18154320)

This new learning fascinates me, Bedeveire - tell me again how sheep's bladders may be employed to prevent earthquakes.

Too late (1)

ledvinap (412654) | more than 7 years ago | (#18154956)

I wish Westwood studios implemented this idea in Dune II ...

Sorry in advance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18155520)

"Impressive"

Potential Risk to Semiconductor SiO2 Supply? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18157658)

I wonder if such bacteria are potentially hazardous to the silicon dioxide supplies of the semiconductor industry.

You mean like suposed man made globle warming? (0, Troll)

SkyScott (1068844) | more than 7 years ago | (#18158250)

I just love comments like this: "Isn't the fact that so many environmental actions undertaken by humans have turned out to make things worse reason enough to be scared? We barely understand natural processes, or how they affect eachother. It seems to me that interfering with them is not a good idea unless it is absolutely necessary." Why is it I think the same people that say "We barely understand natural processes" are the same ones that are convinced mankind is warming the planet?

Help for Venice? (2, Insightful)

boo pixie (452315) | more than 7 years ago | (#18159352)

I wonder is this can provide help for sinking cities like Venice. I don't think the Venitian Lagoon is that sandy, but at some depth there might be enough to work with. As long as it doesnt just turn everything into a bigger rock that will sink faster.

Alt. Construction..? (2, Interesting)

skelly33 (891182) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161606)

Could something like this be used as a low-cost concrete alternative structural building material in 3rd world locations where chemical concrete mixes might not be affordable...?

Waves? (1)

kelldandy (899544) | more than 7 years ago | (#18163172)

Well, now that they got the sand problem almost fixed...what about the tsunamis?

And if you'd asked a geologist ... (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 7 years ago | (#18164740)

If you live near the sea,
... And if an earthquake strikes,
... then you didn't pay one nanosecond of attention to your friendly neighbourhood geologist when you were choosing to buy the property and frankly, you deserve what you get for building on unconsolidated soils in an earthquake zone.
If you've inherited such a property, or have only recently started to think about defensive housing (in the same sense as "defensive driving"), then you need to keep your mouth very firmly shut until you've got the buyer's money cleared into your account.
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