Play the termite dating game
If we build termite-like swarming robots, will they inevitably destroy us? Underbug burrows into these questions and many othersunearthing disquieting answers about the world’s most underrated insect and what it means to be human.
Lisa Margonelli is the author of the national bestseller Oil on the Brain: Petroleum’s Long, Strange Trip to Your Tank and writes the Small Science column for Zócalo Public Square, where she is a senior editor.
TV National Blackout Schedule Contact Us Forgot Password?
The award-winning journalist Lisa Margonelli, national bestselling author of Oil on the Brain: Petroleum’s Long, Strange Trip to Your Tank, investigates the environmental and economic impact termites inflict on human societies in this fascinating examination of one of nature’s most misunderstood insects. In Underbug, the award-winning journalist Lisa Margonelli introduces us to the enigmatic creatures that collectively outweigh human beings ten to one and consume billion worth of valuable stuff annuallyand yet, in Margonelli’s telling, seem weirdly familiar.
Over the course of a decade-long obsession with the little bugs, Margonelli pokes around termite mounds and high-tech research facilities, closely watching biologists, roboticists, and geneticists.
It's normal for men, but if a girl fucks a man on the first date, she must be either a whore or a crazy one. Ask a sexhibitionist beauty to show her pretty breast in the cafe and take a photo on phone. A poor guy broke his hand and lays alone in the hospital. Enjoy incredible sex with a monster and use an enormous huge dildo to tear the pussy and penetrate the girl through. Natasha is Nancy's sister and is also a news reporter, but not just any reporter; she is Nancy's competition for prime time cable and works for a rival news station.
There were three passengers in my car, and I was following a white van with government plates carrying nine more. Earlier that year I'd done a story for The Atlantic about Phil and thirty-eight other scientists who sequenced a million genes from the microbes found in the guts of Nasutitermes corniger — termites they'd found in trees in Costa Rica.
Between these two vehicles we had eleven microbial geneticists from six countries with nearly three hundred years of collective education. Because termites are famously good at eating wood, the genes in their guts were attractive to government labs trying to turn wood and grass into fuel: "grassoline." The white van and the geneticists all belonged to JGI.
In those days, gasoline was always on my mind because I'd written a book about oil.
When I received Phil's email, I had been writing about the problems of petroleum for seven years, and I was staring at twenty open PDFs about energy on my computer's desktop.