Public Restroom

You know that feeling when you walk into the men's bathroom and are surprised there aren't any urinals, then realize the mens bathroom definitely has urinals, then awkwardly walk out of the women's restroom..?

New York Subway Home of Alien Life, Anthrax, Bubonic Plague

Ever travel on the subway in NYC? No? Well, it's an experience. Depending on the time of day it's either more crowded than Grandma Mary's countertop or as bizarre an experience as seeing G.W. Bush doing interpretive dance. To it's credit, it also works well and goes pretty much everywhere you need it to, fast. Which is not something I would ever say about the T in my town, Boston (who the hell designs a major subway system without a ring/circle line? morons).

But it turns out that your ride in the NYC subway may be a little more interesting than you thought...

"Researchers took DNA samples from surfaces in the New York City subway system. Just 0.2% of the DNA collected matched the human genome, and nearly half did not match any known organism. 12% of the bacteria found were known pathogens, including Bubonic plague and small bits of anthrax."

Anthrax??!?! Plauge?!?!? 50% unknown to science? What the hell is going on down there??



The full article:
Researchers took DNA samples from surfaces in the New York City subway system and found that almost half of the samples did not match any known organism.
Over 17 months, a team of researchers used nylon swabs to collect DNA from kiosks, benches, turnstiles, garbage cans and railings from all open subway stations and lines of the NYC Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), the Staten Island Railway, 12 sites in the Gowanus Canal and four public parks.
Just 0.2% of the DNA collected matched the human genome, and nearly half did not match any known organism. 12% of the bacteria found were known pathogens, including Bubonic plague and small bits of anthrax.
 People don't look at a subway pole and think, 'It's teeming with life.' After this study, they may. But I want them to think of it the same way you'd look at a rain forest, and be almost in awe and wonder, effectively, that there are all these species present — and that you've been healthy all along.- Christopher E. Masonlead study author and geneticist at Weill Cornell Medical College
Mason noted that most bacteria they found is neutral to human health and "may even be helpful, since they can out-compete any dangerous bacteria."
Scientists found that human DNA in some subway stations corresponded to the demographics of the neighborhood. For example, a station in an area of Manhattan's Chinatown with a noted Hispanic population had many Hispanic and Asian genes in samples. The Bronx had the most diverse microbial species, followed by Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.
The intent of the study is to help discover new ways to monitor disease outbreaks, fight antibiotic resistant microbes and detect bioterrorism attacks. Because it is the first of its kind, it also establishes a baseline against which future scientists can compare to see how microbes on public transit evolve over time.