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Google Site Lets Readers
Flip Through the News

Google, long seen as an enemy by many in the news industry, is making a bold attempt to be seen as a friend with a new service it hopes will make it easier for readers to read newspaper and magazine articles.

On Monday, the company introduced an experimental news hub called Fast Flip that allows users to view news stories from dozens of major publishers and flip through them as quickly as they would the pages of a magazine. Google will place ads around the news articles and share resulting revenue with publishers.

Fast Flip, which is based on Google News, attempts to address what Google considers a major problem with news sites: Because they often are slow to load, they turn off many readers. Fast Flip, which is available at fastflip.googlelabs.com, first appears as a collection of images of news articles that Google has culled from the sites of its partners.

Showering, But Not Alone

There are some things it is better just not to think about. Like the 10,000 bacteria you inhale with each breath in the average office building. Or the 10 million bacteria in each glass of tap water.

Microbiologists have now added something else to the list of things too gross to contemplate: the deluge of bacteria that hit your face and flow deep into your lungs in the morning shower.

Showers in New York carry a particularly high dose of a microbe related to tuberculosis called Mycobacterium avium. The bacterium and its close cousins can cause a variety of exotic chest complaints, including lifeguard’s lung, hot tub lung and Lady Windermere’s syndrome.

This unwelcome peek behind the shower curtain has been provided by a group of microbiologists headed by Norman R. Pace of the University of Colorado. As part of a project to measure microbes in the indoor human environment, they looked at shower water, in part because in showers bacteria are incorporated into fine droplets that can be breathed deep into the lungs.

Conventional tests depend on growing cultures of the bacteria to be identified, but because most species cannot be grown in the laboratory, a majority of bacterial species are missed. Pace’s method examines the genetic material directly, without the need for culturing bacteria.

He has turned up more than 15 kinds of bacteria in showers across the country, from Tennessee to Illinois, Denver and New York City, he reports this week in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Aside from the thought of being sprayed in the face by a bacterial cocktail every morning, the shower bacteria present no serious danger, with the possible exception of the M. avium. Pace said this microbe could be a risk to people whose immune system was compromised.