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Science Idle

Tiny Tentacled Microorganisms Named After Cthulu 54

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-his-slide-dead-cthulhu-waits-dreaming dept.
First time accepted submitter mebates writes "Two newly discovered protists, found in the guts of termites, were named after monstrous cosmic entities featured in Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos as an ode to the sometimes strange and fascinating world of the microbe. From the article: 'The single-cell protists, Cthulhu macrofasciculumque and Cthylla microfasciculumque, help termites digest wood. The researchers decided to name them after monstrous cosmic entities featured in Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos as an ode to the sometimes strange and fascinating world of the microbe. 'When we first saw them under the microscope they had this unique motion, it looked almost like an octopus swimming,' says UBC researcher Erick James, lead author of the paper describing the new protists, published in the online journal PLoS ONE.'"
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Tiny Tentacled Microorganisms Named After Cthulu

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 04, 2013 @11:08PM (#43365425)

    The Great Old Ones shall not be mocked!

  • The Old Ones... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Genda (560240) <mariet&got,net> on Thursday April 04, 2013 @11:29PM (#43365519) Journal

    Will drive you mad... look at how many times the phrase "featured in Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos as an ode to the sometimes strange and fascinating world of the microbe." is used in the story??? MAD?!!!!

    Indeed, the Great Old Ones shall not be mocked! Anyone got some tartar sauce?

  • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @11:32PM (#43365531) Homepage Journal

    I've often wondered if people of the modern age would be as affected by an encounter with these creatures as the people of grandfather's time.

    Raised on decades of science fiction, horror, twilight zone and outer limits, such an encounter would be grave and dangerous, but perhaps not quite as sanity-altering as it once was. We have context for comparison, the unusual would seem less... incomprehensible.

    We're also starting to unravel the scientific basis of these unfathomable entities. I'll just leave this [arxiv.org] here.

    • by Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) on Thursday April 04, 2013 @11:54PM (#43365633)

      I dunno about that. Have you ever encountered something truly CREEPY? I'm not a real high strung person, but I can tell you that for sure you it is pretty surprising how disturbed you can become in the right (wrong) circumstances. I'm skeptical we're any better at handling these things than reasonably educated and experienced people of the past. It may be true that more members of today's society are more used to being exposed to new things, but I think you'd find that most people are still kinda not that far from what they were like 100 years ago.

    • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater AT gmail DOT com> on Friday April 05, 2013 @12:42AM (#43365877) Homepage

      Raised on decades of science fiction, horror, twilight zone and outer limits, such an encounter would be grave and dangerous, but perhaps not quite as sanity-altering as it once was.

      The people of our grandfathers time, and beyond, were raised on a steady diet of some fairly creepy and horrifying ghost and creature stories... there's much more to the old world than Han Christian Andersen. At any rate, encountering something creepy in real life is *very* different from 'encountering' it on the big or little screen or between the pages of a book.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Reading about a zombie/monster or watching a movie about them and meeting one face to face is quite different. I can watch a movie where people are being shot at and think it is cool. I have, unfortunately, been in a situation where I was shot at and it was not cool... At all. My friend was actually hit (in the leg) and he did not find it cool either.

    • by AnotherAnonymousUser (972204) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:15AM (#43366193)
      Of course, you can add a whole new layer of horror even to your iPad these days, it seems.

      https://www.etsy.com/listing/119115231/necronomicon-ipad-ereader-cover [etsy.com]?
    • I found Lovecraft's cosmic horrors to generally be interesting aliens or alien artifacts. I always feel sorry for the Old Ones when I read At the Mountains of Madness.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        And indeed you should! Them being great evils vastly more powerful than humans doesn't change that Cthulhu & co are refugees from even greater evils that are in turn vastly more powerful than them.

        The usually overlooked central theme of Lovecraft --the very theme that makes it genuine horror rather than monster stories-- is the premise that greater intelligence and power unavoidably requires greater evil as a prerequisite.

        Lovecraft's stories are/were his personal cry for help, he doesn't want his premis

    • by bentcd (690786) <bcd@pvv.org> on Friday April 05, 2013 @08:24AM (#43367315) Homepage

      I've often wondered if people of the modern age would be as affected by an encounter with these creatures as the people of grandfather's time.

      The underlying theme in the Lovecraft universe is that the Elder Gods not only seem incomprehensible but that they actually are incomprehensible. The more you study them and their nature, the more your own internal ordering of the universe will break down and in the end your understanding of the universe is so different from the observed universe the rest of us experience we will recognize you as insane.

      You cannot escape this simply by being used to weird things: The Elders Gods aren't just weird, they are completely wrong and yet they exist. Trying to reconcile this with the observed universe leads to madness because the two cannot be reconciled.

      • by emho24 (2531820)
        Now that is just crazy talk
      • by Comrade Ogilvy (1719488) on Friday April 05, 2013 @12:45PM (#43369487)

        Exactly. One of the implicit assumptions is that a healthy human mind is fundamentally incapable of understanding important fundamental truths about the universe. It is simply the limits of our biology.

        Those who attempt to transcend these limits become, at best, insane, or, if genuinely successful in pursuing this path, something inhuman in every pejorative sense of the word. To transcend human biology in this manner requires giving up every kind ethical idea the human mind understands, as a down payment.

        Getting used to the merely weird is ultimately no defense. The terrible things that really matter are inherently destructive to human minds. As a pedestrian example, no one really gets used to being in the thick of WWI trench warfare. Some adopt mental strategies and call on moral reserves that slows the rate of their decline, but decline is inexorable. Given enough time, everyone becomes a permanent mental basket case from trench warfare, some merely sooner than others.

        It is worth noting that the Great War weighed heavily on the minds of Lovecraft's generation of artists. For some, that war shattered the belief in the inevitable progress of the human race built on the foundation of Enlightenment. Perhaps the human race as moral creatures peaked in 1913, and the lessons of the war were pebbles in the oncoming avalanche of future horrors? That is the emotional playground Lovecraft danced in, when writing the Mythos tales.

  • Well I, for one, welcome our new microscopic alien overlords!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    sounds vaguely Japanese

  • the reason we haven't found 'The Great Old One' is because he's not in a singlular spot...but i'm willing to bet if there was a 'family reunion' of these little critters...if there was a ba-jillian come together...we may just have some sort of 'celestial alignment'...creating peculiar geometries within the mind...
  • Nuts? (Score:1, Funny)

    by BigBunion (2578693)
    Am I the only one who thought this was an article about tiny testicles?
  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Friday April 05, 2013 @02:41AM (#43366281) Homepage
    The stars are right! We cannot be denied! Our termites will destroy everything that opposes us, as long as it's made out of wood!
    • If you see it, it will drive you insane.

      Roll a terror check.

      • If you see it, it will drive you insane.

        Roll a terror check.

        I have no problem envisioning Richard Billington on his tower in the Misquacamacus chatting up these things.

        Er, "holding strange converse with these beings".

        Remember: Yog-Sothoth is the Gate! Yog-Sothoth is the Key! Ïa! Ïa!

  • by cstacy (534252) on Friday April 05, 2013 @05:00AM (#43366635)
    They're cute little tentacled microorganisms now. Oh yeah "Ooh, aah", that's how it always starts. But then there's running and screaming.
    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      And if your lucky Bob Howard or that Cute British Redhead from the laundry service puts you out your misery before the black chamber gets its paws and tentacles on you :-)

      I wonder if the professors are Charlie Stoss fans :-)
  • In the gut of a termite at R'lyeh, dead Cthulu waits dreaming.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Great ... cue the Lovecraft nuts who think a Cthulhu reference is arbitrarily needed in every comment thread, and the mods who think that every Cthulhu reference must be modded up.

  • "Tiny octopus-like microorganisms named after science fiction monsters"

    It's kind of hard to continue reading after that. If you don't grok the difference between science fiction and fantasy, how can I take anything you have to say about science seriously?

    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      well the Cthulhu mythos mixes the two genres and the laundry service is definitely SF
    • by Anonymous Coward

      1. You shouldn't take anything /. writes about science (or anything else) seriously. This is why there is no editing.
      2. The only reason to read /. is for the comments. This is why you should consider reading at -1 (scrolling is easy).
      3. The only reason to open a "news" item is to find the kind of comments and/or quarrels you expect and want, choose accordingly. No guarantees.
      4. Welcome to /. :)
      5. Nice comment! Someone should mod you up.

He: Let's end it all, bequeathin' our brains to science. She: What?!? Science got enough trouble with their OWN brains. -- Walt Kelly

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