Bacteria growing on your hard drive right now? That’s bad — very bad. But in the future, it could be the basis on which your hard drive — or even your entire computer — is built.
The BBC reports on research undertaken jointly in the UK and Japan that uses iron-eating microbes called Magnetospirilllum magneticum. No particular prizes for guessing what makes these little fellas interesting; as they ingest the iron it becomes magnetic, forming tiny particles. In nature, the Magnetospirilllum magneticum align along the Earth’s magnetic field lines — or in other words, forming arrays. The researchers used this natural behaviour to build specific magnets, and it’s hoped the research could be fine-tuned into building storage devices; they’ve already had some success in using microbes to build nano-wires. [BBC]