Thursday, April 18, 2013

Glow-in-the-dark wounded soldiers?

Did Civil War Soldier's Bodies Actually Glow in the Dark?

Scientific lab research has apparently proved the existence of bio-luminescent bacteria growing in infected soldiers' wounds, to account for strange reports from the period of wounds that visibly glowed on the battlefield at night. It was first observed after the Battle of Shiloh, where thousands of men were laying in freezing mud after a rainstorm.  Soldiers who had wounds that glowed noticed their wounds healed faster and more cleanly than those of others, calling the protective properties of it "Angel's Glow"  The culprit bacterium has been identified, it's been grown in lab cultures. And under the right conditions, it does glow brightly!  A friendly bacterium, a waste product of nematode worms, that attacks other microorganisms thus making infected wounds heal faster. It only grows under cold conditions, and soldiers who were getting hypothermia grew this bacteria and it saved their lives.

Looking at historical records of the battle, (they) figured out that the weather and soil conditions were right for both P. luminescens and their nematode partners. Their lab experiments with the bacteria, however, showed that they couldn’t live at human body temperature, making the soldiers’ wounds an inhospitable environment. Then they realized what some country music fans already knew: Tennessee in the spring is green and cool. Nighttime temperatures in early April would have been low enough for the soldiers who were out there in the rain for two days to get hypothermia, lowering their body temperature and giving P. luminescens a good home.
Based on the evidence for P. luminescens’s presence at Shiloh and the reports of the strange glow, the boys concluded that the bacteria, along with the nematodes, got into the soldiers’ wounds from the soil. This not only turned their wounds into night lights, but may have saved their lives. The chemical cocktail that P. luminescens uses to clear out its competition probably helped kill off other pathogens that might have infected the soldiers’ wounds. Since neither P. luminescens nor its associated nematode species are very infectious to humans, they would have soon been cleaned out by the immune system themselves (which is not to say you should be self-medicating with bacteria; P. luminescens infections can occur, and can result in some nasty ulcers). The soldiers shouldn’t have been thanking the angels so much as the microorganisms.

The weather, soil and immune conditions had to be just right for this bizarre phenomena.  Read more about it at the article below:

Science is cool!

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