June 25, 2017
You've never seen one by itself, because it's about a micron in size. The naked eye needs something to be about 10 microns to focus on it.
Few have seen one anyway, since it's only recently that Science knew about them.
Nevertheless, it is a GIANT. In its own category, Pandoravirus is the second-largest of all-- why, its very GENOME is the biggest among all known viruses.
With its swaggering size and its charming name, you'd think there would be 3 or 4 sci-fi movies already in the can!
And there would, I assure you, if amoebae made sci-fi movies. Because Pandoraviruses infect amoebae. Whew-- they are no danger to us Boomers and Seniors!
Finally! Something we DON'T have to worry about!
I live to serve.
Pandora, we'll call it, was discovered in an amoeba living in a contact lens of a woman in Koblenz, Germany. A real newcomer to our knowledge of microbiology-- for the year was 2008!
It was officially “outed” in 2013. Then TWO species of it were found-- one in seawater from the coast of Chile, and another in a shallow freshwater pond in Melbourne, Australia.
Well...welcome to the databases, kids!
Eureka! This kind of thing happens only about once every 50 years!
Kindasorta hard to decide what the critter was. Too big to be a virus. Must be a bacteria.
NOOP! Was a virus, all right!
Is that a yawn you're stifling? You're not an amoeba, don't know any amoebae, don't live in Australia or Chile...
But you have to keep two things in mind. One, viruses can mutate. Two, many of your nastiest enemies are viruses. To name a few:
Ebola H5N1 Bird Flu Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Spanish Flu Rabies HIV West Nile Marburg
So let's suppose that some demented scientist breeds some Pandoras to an enormous size.
Let's say, the size of a sunflower seed.
Then he breeds those with Spanish Flu. He may favor the ones with the natural white center with an avocado border, or the ones with a light avocado center and a darker avocado border. ( More interesting than Spanish flu's blah, undramatic resemblance to a fuzzy coconut.)
--Or mix in an iridescent rainbow virus! As a third genome!
So picture this! You're standing on an escalator at the height of flu season, and right up ahead of you on the handrail thingy is an iridescing red Spanish flu/Pandora/Iridsescent Rainbow Virus!
I mean, this thing is deadly.
It looks like a sparkly, friendly baby grub, but it's the Grim Reaper, my friend, and you know what you must do.
With all your might, you bring your iPad down onto its sparkliness.
And, just like that, you save humanity from a pandemic!
You hero, you!
Please remember, as you are feted down Main Street in a cherry-red convertible, balancing the Key to the City on your lap, to give me a little tip of the hat as I'm trying to get your ticker tape untangled from my glasses.
I'm the shortest senior citizen visible, but in the front row. Because otherwise I can't see.
And to think-- you'll owe it all to Science!