Behold The Mighty, Microscopic Water Bear Microscopic water bears, also known as tardigrades, can withstand boiling, freezing, radiation, the vacuum of space and years of dehydration. Biologist Bob Goldstein of the University of North Carolina describes the creatures and why he studies them.
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Behold The Mighty, Microscopic Water Bear

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Behold The Mighty, Microscopic Water Bear

Behold The Mighty, Microscopic Water Bear

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Next up, Flora Lichtman is here with our video pick of the week. Flora, take it away. What have we got this week?

FLORA LICHTMAN: This week, we meet a very special little organism called the water bear.

FLATOW: The water bear?

(Soundbite of laughter)

LICHTMAN: The water bear.

FLATOW: One hundred, 200 pounds? Eight hundred pounds of big bear?

LICHTMAN: No, very tiny, about half of millimeter. And they look really cute. They look like these sort of microscopic bears. They have toes and they're cuddly, but you shouldn't be deceived because they are some of the toughest creatures...



FLATOW: And so, you - up on our video - on our Web site at under the video pick of the week, you have put together this wonderful little video.

LICHTMAN: A little montage.

FLATOW: A little montage...

LICHTMAN: An ode to the water bear.

FLATOW: And from video that you actually collected that people sent you.

LICHTMAN: Yes. Yep, we went online, found biologists from all over the world, England, France and one at the University of North Carolina Bob Goldstein, who gave us footage of these cute little water bears. And then we found a little bit more about them from this researcher who studies them.

FLATOW: Wow. And so, if you want to see this sort of, well, I won't call them dancing water bears...


(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Almost. They are almost dancing, but they're under a microscope, right?


FLATOW: That's how tiny they are.

LICHTMAN: Right. And here's one little factoid that I think was worth knowing. They go into this sort of extreme hibernation, and in this state you can boil them, deep freeze them, expose them to the vacuum of space, dehydrate them for decades, and they'll survive.

FLATOW: Just add water.

LICHTMAN: Just add water.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: They come back. Well, I think it's a great a toy. It was too bad you couldn't play them yourself. I guess if you could have to find them, right?

LICHTMAN: Yeah, and look in your backyard; they like moss.

FLATOW: They like moss. OK, everything you wanted to know about water bears, right...

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Here on Science Friday, Flora Lichtman's video pick up of the week. If you want to see her video, it's up on, and you can watch and download it and have fun dancing around with the water bear.

LICHTMAN: Thanks, Ira.

FLATOW: Thank you, Flora. That's about all we have for this week. Our program is produced by Christopher Intagliata and senior producer Annette Heist. Charles Bergquist is our director. Flora is our producer for digital media. Our intern is Shelly DuBois. Neal Rausch is our technical director and he's at the controls here in New York. We also had help in Second Life from Lynn Collins, Dave Andrews, Jeff Corbin and the University of Denver. If you'd like to write to us, send your letters the old-fashioned way to Science Friday, 4 West 43rd Street, Room 306, New York, New York, 10036. Also, better yet, surf over to our Web site at Not only can you see the dancing water bears today, Flora's pick of the week, you can also get in on our podcasting and blogging and sign up for becoming a member of our Second Life crew. Get a free T-shirt in Second Life on Science Friday Island. I'm Ira Flatow in New York.

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