Diatoms b/w Diatoms


Diatoms, a type of algae, are found floating in the phytoplankton of the seas. Their cell walls contain silica. When diatoms die they sink to the sea floor. Their soft parts decay and the silica remains. Over time the pressure of the seawater pushes the silica together to form one large layer. This silica is mined and used as an ingredient in abrasives and polishes.

Fascinating Facts

Did you know...

  1. If you pick up a handful of garden soil you will be holding hundreds if not thousands of different kinds of microbes.

    One single teaspoon of soil contains 1 billion bacteria & 120,000 fungi & 25,000 algae

  2. Microbes have been around longer than anything else on Earth, longer even than dinosaurs.

    If you imagine Earth began as a single day:
    Microbes appeared at 5am
    Dinosaurs appeared at 10pm
    ... and humans appeared seconds before midnight

  3. There are 10 times more bacteria in the average human’s digestive system than there are cells in the entire body. This is approximately 1kg of bacteria.

  4. There are more microbes on one person’s hand than there are people on the planet.

  5. Microbes generate at least half the oxygen we breathe.

  6. Most microbes do not cause disease - less than 5% do.

  7. Cattle belching and farting produce about 20% of the Earth’s methane.

  8. A study found that 30% of all people didn't wash their hands after using a public bathroom—although 90% claimed they do. Just think what may be on their hands!

  9. The toilet handle in most bathrooms at work has 400 times more germs than the toilet seat.

  10. Botox is made from a deadly bacterial toxin which is used in very small doses to remove wrinkles.

  11. Some dentists recommend that a toothbrush should be kept at least 2 metres away from a toilet to avoid air-borne particles resulting from the flush – what a large bathroom!

  12. Dr Winkle Weinberg, an infectious diseases expert, reckons that when we have a cold and cough the virus particles can travel at 320 kilometres an hour and up to 900 metres. That is faster than a passenger jet at takeoff!

  13. The largest organism in the world when measured by area is the Honey Mushroom fungus. It covers a whopping 8.9km2 of a national forest in the USA.

  14. According to Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist in Arizona the bathroom is cleaner then the kitchen in the average house. He says you're safer making a sandwich on top of the toilet bowl than in the kitchen.

  15. The dirtiest spots in the kitchen are dishcloths, cutting boards, sponges, and sink handles. Surprisingly, the floor is often cleaner than the sink!


Free resources on hot topics such as TB, AIDS and microbes and climate change.


Interviews with leading microbiologists about their latest research.