View Full Version : What about those worms?

2003-Jul-14, 05:49 PM
Does anyone have an update on the worms that survived the shuttle crash?

2003-Jul-15, 12:30 AM
I don't know about them but the spiders that died were mourned by my sister. She helped with that experiment as part of a uni project. My sister hates spiders.

But yeah, it would be good to hear about those worms. For all our knowledge and ingenuity it's the simnple life form that survives.

2003-Jul-15, 05:43 PM
I didn't know worms could survive those kinds of conditions. Of what type were they?

2003-Jul-15, 06:01 PM
The worms were called C. elegans, and they're only a few millimetres long. Here's a link to a story about them:

http://www.adn.com/24hour/special_reports/...p-6098718c.html (http://www.adn.com/24hour/special_reports/columbia/story/874310p-6098718c.html)

I've got an email in to the woman who ran the experiment. Hopefully she'll give us the update.

philip slater
2003-Jul-16, 01:21 AM
These little guys really are little. When I first encountered this story I visualised wiggly worms from the garden but then found out they weren't everyday earthworms at all, even if they could be described as Earth worms, or maybe as space worms, when considered from different points of view.

Apparently they are a type of nematode worm called Caenorhabditis elegans, about the size of the tip of a pencil, depending on how sharp is your pencil.

Reading one version of the story I got the neon sign activated in the head that lights up with the 'Alarm, Alarm, Internal Inconsistency' warning sign.

I think this was caused of the time elapsed between their fall to Earth and their discovery, followed by the delay caused by the fact that no-one opened their capsule for a while as it was assumed they would have become ex-Caenorhabditis elegans, what with everything they had been through.

So, compare this total elapsed time with the quoted natural lifetime of the worms of about ten days.

Maybe these survivor guys and galls (do they have both sorts?) are actually the next worm generation. It would be good to know how they or their descendants are now doing after this many planar worm lifetimes. (Yet another job for Fraser?)

However, whilst re-organising life after 1st February, maybe their stories, and that of the spiders and all the other life forms aboard Columbia will one day get through to the relevant Planners, Engineers, Administrators and Budget-Setting Legislators who might get the message that even the most horrendous energy-packed disasters resulting from the need to make it through the atmosphere to get to and from space are survivable, within suitable protected environments appropriate to each species making the still hazardous journey between the inherently safe environments of planetary surface and space itself.

One version of this story appeared in The Scotsman on May 1st www.news.scotsman.com

Philip Slater


2003-Jul-16, 05:03 PM
Okay, I just talked with NASA, and there isn't much to say right now. The original science experiment is still going on, and will be published in a science journal in the coming months. But, Catharine Conley, who's doing the experiment said, "the worms are living happily in my lab, and their descendants may be used in future flight experiments."

I'll give an update in a few months once more details are released by NASA.

It's funny, for this experiment, I think we're all more interested in the well-being of a few worms than the actual science. :-)

2003-Jul-16, 10:39 PM
Those worms will out live us!

2003-Jul-17, 02:19 AM
Well, the future generations of those worms, definitely.

2003-Jul-22, 03:37 PM
Hey I'm a girl from Singapore, 13, and I'm pretty interested in the cosmos and stuff. Can anybody guide me? Also, i would like to find out more of the C.Elegans or whatever you call it.