Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: It’s a good day to be a worm researcher

Mar 13, 2024, 8:00 PM | Updated: Mar 14, 2024, 1:04 pm

worm FILE: Microbialites found during a University of Utah sampling trip at the Great Salt Lake on ...

FILE: Microbialites found during a University of Utah sampling trip at the Great Salt Lake on July 22, 2021. Nematodes, otherwise known as roundworms, were discovered at the lake, according to a new study (Julie Jung)

(Julie Jung)

Editor’s note: This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

Jeff Caplan thinks the coolest job in the world… is a worm researcher.

I interviewed one of the researchers who just discovered only the third species ever found in the Great Salt Lake. Brine shrimp, the flies, and now they just discovered teeny tiny nematodes — otherwise known as roundworms. 

Not the kind that sends your dog to the vet. These are non-parasitic roundworms that wiggle around the salty broth and manage to escape detection until yesterday’s announcement from the University of Utah. Not that we’re going to put these little critters in the tourism brochures. They look like ramen noodles shrunken down microscopic.

But what a moment for worm research. And to think it comes at the same time as everyone’s flocking to movies to see Dune, a movie about… worms.  Giant quarter-mile-long worms with rows and rows of razor-sharp teeth, slithering through the sand and pooping the priceless fuel that powers military spaceships.

Yes, the sandworms in Dune are sexier than the little ramen noodles in the Great Salt Lake, but for the researchers at U of U, size doesn’t matter.

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Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News: It’s a good day to be a worm researcher