A study led by Christopher Mason, a geneticist at Weill Cornell Medical College, has confirmed what you probably always assumed about the New York City subways but never really wanted to think about too deeply: they're full of weird bacteria. The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating/disgusting interactive map where you can see which types of bacteria were found at every station in the city. "I want [people] to think of [the subway] the same way you'd look at a rain forest, and be almost in awe and wonder, effectively, that there are all these species present," he told the Times. The bacteria found by researchers include traces of the types that cause anthrax and the bubonic plague, though the study—and the MTA, which disputed the findings—were quick to clarify that they certainly do not exist at the levels where anyone has to worry about getting infected. In fact, Mason went so far to as to tell Gothamist that, "You wouldn't want to lick all the poles, even though you'd probably be fine." So there you have it. Lick as many subway poles as you want.
· Big Data and Bacteria: Mapping the New York Subway's DNA [WSJ]
· Among New York Subway's Millions of Riders, a Study Finds Many Mystery Microbes [NYT]
· Licking Subway Poles "Probably Fine," Says Expert [Gothamist]