And the bacteria said: Let there be light, and there was

Glow worms, fireflies; both undeniably cool.

And now, the same bioluminescent process could be used as the lighting of the future.

Electronics behemoth Phillips has created a series of glass chambers that contain bacteria; when these are fed methane gas – such as from a household waste digester – they glow a rather cool green.

Jim ‘The Hloff’ Haseloff of Cambridge University told CNN that this was a very important development, but then he would, wouldn’t he?

“It’s appealing because it brings two things together, which you wouldn’t normally associate. I don’t think you want to imagine that everyone’s going to start putting bacterial cultures into their own home for lighting, but as a way of exploring the idea it’s quite interesting.

“When you move out of the normal area – illuminating walkways and things like that – where things could essentially be growing and delivering light for free, that’s where you’re going to have applications.”

That’s cast some light on the subject.

Deep thought

News also this week that the European Union is likely to spend $1.2 billion on building a supermegamassivecomputer called the Living Earth Simulator Project. This is supposed to stimulate everything on the planet, using data from tweets, government stats and basically anything it can find in order to predict coming trends in financial and other markets.

Dirk ‘the Hell’ Helbing is a boffin involved with the project, which is based at the Swiss Federal Institude of Technology over in Zurich.

“Many problems we have today – including social and economic instabilities, wars, disease spreading – are related to human behaviour, but there is apparently a serious lack of understanding regarding how society and the economy work,” he told the Sunday Times.

We can only hope that it comes up with answers a little more user-friendly than Forty-Two.

They could, of course, just study animals; it’s been found that some animals that live near groundwater can predict earthquakes due to changes in chemistry. NASA and the Open University are working on this one, which studies reports of snakes emerging from burrows in China before a quake and toads leaving a pond at L’Aquila.

Uh-oh, here we go

And whilst these guys are looking to the future, Japan’s Kinki University (somewhere Weekender would love to study) and a mammoth museum Sakha Republic, Russia, are planning to work together to replace elephant egg nuclei with mammoth marrow cells in order to produce hybrid mammoth-phants. The mammoth has not been seen on earth in 10,000 years but well-preserved thigh bones have been revealed in Siberia thanks to climate change, which means the likelihood of reintroducing this mighty beast is raised. And perhaps we can then go to some kind of, I don’t know, wildlife park to see them. Maybe we could call it something to do with past geological eras. Hmm.