Virus as Koosh ball: My favorite image of the day

By Carl Zimmer | June 14, 2011 4:17 pm

The other day I got the July issue of American Scientist and was tickled to no end to see this portrait of mimiviruses on the cover. As I write in A Planet of Viruses, mimiviruses were literally hiding in plain sight for years. Scientists considered them to be bacteria because they were too big to be viruses (see the minuscule HIV and rhinovirus, the cause of colds, for scale). It turns out they are indeed viruses, and perhaps the most interesting viruses on Earth. They may even represent an ancient branch of the tree of life, reaching back several billion years.

Check out James Van Etten’s excellent review of the science of giant viruses in the magazine.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: A Planet of Viruses

Comments (3)

  1. Don’t forget to peek at the back cover too, to see what’s hidden behind the Koosh balls!

  2. Brian Too

    Do they light up when you squish them? I love those! Hey, if you mashed up one of these with one of those cellular lasers…

  3. This is a nice picture..Also looks like an interesting feature. The advances in science always amaze me


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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