Half Life

Today marks a unique day for the LTEE and me.

The LTEE started on February 17, 1988.  That was 11,517 days ago.

I was born on August 13, 1956.  That was 23,034 days ago.

That means that the LTEE is now half as old as I am.

To put it another way, I’ve spent half a lifetime on the LTEE.

Well, that’s not quite the right way to put it, since I’ve done a few other things during that time. Like raising a family—with a lot of help.  And a lot of other science, also with a lot of help, not to mention all the work of so many students and collaborators on the LTEE itself.

And unlike a radioactive isotope, the bacteria haven’t been decaying—they’ve been getting better and better at living in their flask-worlds.

My hope is that this long-term evolution experiment will continue for a long time. A very long time. For a lot longer than my own lifetime.

Here are a couple of photos from around the time the LTEE started. The first one shows Madeleine and me camping near Joshua Tree National Park in the summer of 1987, at the annual retreat of the UC-Irvine EEB department, and only a couple months before the birth of our youngest. The next one shows me snuggling with my three kids in early 1989.


How time flies. Luckily, though, I get to snuggle with my three grandkids now.

Bacterial generations. Human generations. Growing, evolving, and learning.







Filed under Science

4 responses to “Half Life

  1. bewilderbeast

    WONderful!! Ever-evolving lives, families, thoughts, ideas, knowledge. Thank you.

    • bewilderbeast

      P.S: What a nerd to know how many days you’ve lived! I’m going to work mine out now . .

    • When the LTEE hit 31 years, and I was 62, I started wondering when it would be exactly half my age. In Excel, you can calculate the number of days by subtracting one date from another. So I did that for the LTEE and for myself, playing with the dates until I found when the LTEE would be one-half the number of of mine. I then made a note to blog about it when that date arrived. Go nerds!

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