So you like big numbers…

If you enjoy thinking about big numbers, track down a copy of this article, and have yourself a merry time:

Beyond the infinite – tracking bacterial gene expression,” Jack A. Gilbert [pictured here], Microbiology Today. vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 82-86. May 2010.

“IF THE NUMBER of known stars in the Milky Way is multiplied by the number of known galaxies in the universe the result is a huge number, a septillion (1×10 super(24)). Yet, large as this is, it pales in comparison to the number of microbial cells found in the world oceans, estimated to be 1 nonillion (1×10 super(30)). When we start to include soil, air and organism-associated environments, this number becomes unimaginable. Traditional microbiology is our gold standard for understanding how these trillions and trillions of bacteria function. Basically, we grow the bugs in a laboratory, one species at a time, and test how they respond to chemical stimuli. Ultimately, we sequence their genome and try to map their genes to particular functions….”