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The 500-Year-Long Science Experiment

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/01/500-year-long-science-experiment/581155/

theatlantic.com

The 500-Year-Long Science Experiment
Michigan State University also houses an E. coli experiment that could run for centuries. Since February 1988, the lab of the microbiologist Richard Lenski has been watching how acquire mutations and evolve over the generations. They're currently on generation 70,500. Because E. coli replicates so quickly, it's like watching evolution on hyper-speed.

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Testing the longevity of bacteria

In 2014, scientists started a 500-year experiment to determine the longevity of bacteria.

The experiment consists of 800 glass vials containing either Chroococcidiopsis or Bacillus subtilis that has been hermetically sealed with a flame.

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Studying bacteria: The long-term plan

For the 500-year experiment to succeed, scientists are supposed to test the dried bacteria for viability and DNA damage every other year for the first 24 years and then every quarter-century for the next 475.

The team left a USB stick with instructions as well as a hard copy on paper. As neither is foolproof, the team asks that researchers will at each 25-year point copy the instructions, so they remain linguistically and technologically up to date.

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