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No. 133: JAN-FEB 2001

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Strange Red Slime In Mine

In the 1960s, an abandoned mine in Wisconsin flooded with groundwater. Scuba divers could not resist the challenge. As they explored the murky depths, they chanced upon deposits of spongy, red slime. When analyzed, the slime was found to contain the first naturally produced nanocrystals. Nano-crystals, like those described above under BIOLOGY, had previously been grown only in the lab. Also like the artificial nanocrystals, those in the red slime did not aggregate randomly; they "rotate into structural accord with the adjacent particles." Whence the slime's 2-3 nanometer clumps of iron oxyhydroxide? Iron-oxidizing bacteria excreted them! (Anonymous; "Strange Crystal Growth Found in Mine," Science News, 158:207, 2000.) Question. Was the red slime a biofilm?

From Science Frontiers #133, JAN-FEB 2001. � 2001 William R. Corliss

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