Myth or Fact? #17 – Cockroaches can survive a nuclear catastrophe

8 days ago
70 in science

cockroach-15093_1920.jpg



"Hello dear reader!
My name is Cockroachy, the coolest cockroach in town! I live next to a nuclear-weapon test zone and life is pretty tough here! However I am fine and a survival specialist. We don't understand why humans do destroy their own planet but that's not part of today letter to you."

...this is what my little brother wrote last week as they had to write a story of insects. Don't ask me how he came up with this story but as we all know, kids can be very creative!

Actually I am thankful he came up with this story since it remembered me of an myth I heard. It is said that cockroaches can survive anything, even a nuclear catastrophe. Sounds crazy. Sounds like a myth! Well today we will find out.

Deadly radiation


Before we investigate whether or not cockroaches would survive a nuclear catastrophe we need to understand what radiation is and why it is dangerous. We have different kinds of ionizing radiation.

(If you want to know more about the radio active decay I recommend to read my post radioactive-contaminated-waste-glows-green)

Alpha, beta and gamma decay

The alpha decay is the radiation of helium nuclei, made up of 2 protons and 2 neutrons. Because this particle has no atomic shell it has a positive charge. As we can see in the figure above alpha decay occurs at heavy, unstable nuclei. After the alpha left, the mother nucleus has 4 neutrons and two protons less.



Fig.1 Schematic illustration of the alpha decay. Credits


The beta decay occurs on heavy as well as on light unstable nuclei. Because of the neutron excess, a neutron decays into a proton and electron. The proton stays in the nucleus whereas the electron is emitted. Because the proton has a higher mass it only can decay into a proton and an electron. This ionizing radiation has a negative charge since electrons are emitted. (To be accurate the neutron decays into a proton, electron and electron-antineutrino). The above described decay is also called beta- radiation. There is also a beta+ radiation where positions are emitted (imagine an electron with a positive charge)



Fig.2 Schematic illustration of the beta decay. Credits


The gamma decay itself has no particle emission. In most cases a nucleus is left in an excited state after alpha or beta decay. When this nucleus gets back to a lower state it radiates penetrating, electromagnetic gamma rays. So mostly gamma radiation is observed together with alpha and beta decay.



Fig.3 Schematic illustration of the gamma radiation. Credits


There are ways to shield against the different types of ionizing radiations. Alpha, beta and gamma are named in the order of their ability to penetrate material. Alpha has the lowest range and gamma the highest. To protect against alpha radiation a simple sheet of paper helps. Thin foil of aluminum can be effective against beta radiation and to stop gamma rays plumb is used. Gamma rays are dangerous because they have a high range, however alpha and beta radiation are not to be underestimated since they can have lethal effects on organisms.

Fig.4 Alpha radiation can be blocked with paper, beta with thin aluminum foil and gamma radiation with plumb. Credits

Biological effects of ionizing radiation

The biological effects of ionizing radiation depends on many factors such as the exposed area, the rate of absorption, type of radiation etc.
As we saw above, ionizing radiation changes the physical and chemical properties of atoms. This has some serious consequences since our molecules are build of atoms, cells are build of molecules and our body is build of cells. Radiation can affect the whole organism!

The interactions with cell materials can cause direct damage to the DNA which can lead to mutations. Enzymes are affected and wont work properly, proteins might get denatured. Remember yesterdays post? Makes sense now! Generally spoken there are four things that can happen to a cell:

  1. The cell dies.
  2. The cell is damaged
  3. The cell is damaged but is able to repair the damage
  4. Nothing happens at all

In one of my articles I described how cell division works. The greater the rate of cell reproduction is the more sensitive the cell is to radiation damage. This is described by the law of Bergonié and Tribondeau.

Makes sense right? The faster our cells divide the more of the actual mutation will spread.

We distinguish between two different kinds of damage to organisms. Acute and latent damage. The following chart shows different acute symptoms in regards of the absorbed dose and time of onset as well as chronically damages.


Fig.5 Whole-body absorbed dose effects chart Source: Wikipedia

Will the cockroach survive?

Indeed! A cockroach can survive a nuclear catastrophe more likely than a human being. Two aspects are to be mentioned. First of all the thick insect carapace blocks a lot of the ionizing radiation which saves the inside organs. Secondly the reproduction rate of cells is much slower than of humans.

It is obvious that nothing would survive a direct blast but we are speaking of radiation here.
Luckily all nuclear states signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 1996 which made them stop testing nuclear weapons on our earth. Unfortunately there are few countries that still drop these bombs for testing.


Thanks for reading this episode of Myth or Fact! Hope you enjoyed it and until next time!
Tim
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42
  ·  7 days ago

11 Reasons way I love those bad boys:

  1. A cockroach can live for a week without its head. Due to their open circulatory system, and the fact that they breathe through little holes in each of their body segments, they are not dependent on the mouth or head to breathe. The roach only dies because without a mouth, it can't drink water and dies of thirst.
  2. A cockroach can hold its breath for 40 minutes, and can even survive being submerged under water for half an hour. They hold their breath often to help regulate their loss of water.
  3. Cockroaches can run up to three miles in an hour, which means they can spread germs and bacteria throughout a home very quickly.
  4. Newborn German cockroaches become adults in as little as 36 days. In fact, the German cockroach is the most common of the cockroaches and has been implicated in outbreaks of illness and allergic reactions in many people.
  5. A one-day-old baby cockroach, which is about the size of a speck of dust, can run almost as fast as its parents.
  6. The American cockroach has shown a marked attraction to alcoholic beverages, especially beer. They are most likely attracted by the alcohol mixed with hops and sugar.
  7. The world's largest roach (which lives in South America) is six inches long with a one-foot wingspan. Average cockroaches can vary in size from ½"- 2" long.
  8. Cockroaches are believed to have originated more than 280 million years ago, in the Carboniferous era.
  9. There are more than 4,000 species of cockroaches worldwide, including the most common species, the German cockroach, in addition to other common species, the brownbanded cockroach and American cockroach.
  10. Because they are cold-blooded insects, cockroaches can live without food for one month, but will only survive one week without water.
  11. There is an actual fact about Cockroaches, if they they disappear from New York City 69 % of the buildings will collapse. Behind those walls they are keeping the city together. Believe me. :D
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70
  ·  7 days ago

Your comment is amazing Javier! Followed you and hope to see more from you soon.

Btw. I saw you are new on Steemit. Welcome!

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42
  ·  7 days ago

Thank you my friend. I will follow you too. Enjoy in joy.

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37
  ·  7 days ago

Interesting facts :)

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58
  ·  6 days ago

"3 - Cockroaches can run up to three miles in an hour, which means they can spread germs and bacteria throughout a home very quickly."
Which means I can quickly lose calories chasing after them. \o/ That's great, @javierayala! Haha

67
  ·  8 days ago

Wicked post again! Thanks for the great information, now it makes me wonder even more about the famous tardigrades and whether or not they'd be able to survive an actual blast!?

Namaste :)

64
  ·  7 days ago

Congratulations @timsaid!
Your post was mentioned in my hit parade in the following categories:

  • Upvotes - Ranked 3 with 649 upvotes
  • Comments - Ranked 7 with 104 comments
  • Pending payout - Ranked 1 with $ 737
67
  ·  6 days ago

I think the insulation from the ground also plays a significant role in their survival.

48
  ·  7 days ago

Short and sweet, I have to say... This post, over most others, is genuinely interesting. This is why timsaid is doing so well. I give a follow, as a scientist and profiteer, and hope to hear more! PS Cockroaches are way cooler than beetles, haha. Sucker flew in my window last night and woke me up... it didn't end well for him.

39
  ·  8 days ago

great post, still hard to believe lol

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70
  ·  8 days ago

It's impressive what nature offers

37
  ·  8 days ago

very decent post. i like the information within. also, please re follow and upvote back if you dont mind. ty friend.

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44
  ·  8 days ago

Just remember, what happened in the movie a bugs life?

64
  ·  8 days ago

And here I am, trying to fight the oncoming summer hoard with by broom... Thanks for the great post!

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70
  ·  8 days ago

I know right! Last time I was in Thailand I saw the biggest cockroach ever. Was a monster!

46
  ·  8 days ago

Great one Bro, that was a great article

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70
  ·  8 days ago

Thank you! I appreciate :)

48
  ·  8 days ago

Cockalypse

67
  ·  6 days ago

My son has a pet cockroach collection. Its disturbing and I think im gonna need to post pictures now...give me the heeveeee jeevees

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70
  ·  6 days ago

Please, I want to see that

58
  ·  7 days ago

Quality post - earned my follow.

I am interested in tardigrades - they are able to survive in vacuum and endure huge radiation doses. Really fascinating. These things can last in space.

img

41
  ·  8 days ago

My mother in law could definitely survive a nuclear catastrophe.. She has the thickest of exoskeletons!

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43
  ·  7 days ago

Hahahahahaha!

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70
  ·  8 days ago

Please, these comments make me laugh way too hard.

41
  ·  8 days ago

You smashed it once again, bro!

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70
  ·  8 days ago

But I don't smash cockroaches :P

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45
  ·  8 days ago

I don't either, only kill anything for food not just to destroy it, life is rear in the known universe

56
  ·  8 days ago

Yikes!

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70
  ·  8 days ago

Try it, I am prepared

43
  ·  8 days ago

So if you do survive doomsday, you can rest assured there -will- be radroaches. I am so not thrilled to hear that.

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70
  ·  8 days ago

Lots of protein!

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42
  ·  7 days ago

Radroach stew though!

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38
  ·  7 days ago

Yes. I wanted this comment. I came here just to find this comment.

49
  ·  8 days ago

This story reminds me of the cockroach from the movie Wall-E following a nuclear catastrophe

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70
  ·  8 days ago

Wall-E is so cute! I really enjoyed the movie

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49
  ·  8 days ago

Me too! Good post thanks

42
  ·  8 days ago

Wow that was randomly interesting

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45
  ·  7 days ago

sure was

47
  ·  8 days ago

Myth or not they are tough:D

40
  ·  8 days ago

Great post. also a very informational one !

43
  ·  8 days ago

Amazing! Good work man!

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70
  ·  8 days ago

Thanks hellogelt83! Happy to see you again

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43
  ·  8 days ago

☺ follower of Mr. T! Tim Said!!!

36
  ·  7 days ago

Yes! Awesome info! :) Reminds me of the Trilobite;

Trilobite

These strangely beautiful creatures - named not for their distinctive cephalon, thorax and pygidium (head, body, tail), but rather for the three lobes that divide their lateral symmetry - would eventually evolve into more than 20,000 scientifically recognized species and dominate the world's oceans for the next quarter of a billion years.

Tardigrades

I think the best kickass lifeform are the Tardigrades!
For those who haven't seen it(Taken from Cosmos)

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70
  ·  7 days ago

Thanks for your information! They look awesome! Will have a look

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45
  ·  7 days ago

Ditto

48
  ·  7 days ago

Indeed, I should stop trying to nuke my cockroaches... :D

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70
  ·  7 days ago

It was you?!

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48
  ·  7 days ago

I really thought I was doing the right thing...

49
  ·  8 days ago

Just when you think they are gone!

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70
  ·  8 days ago

They want to take over the world! They have a masterplan and will put together with ants

52
  ·  7 days ago

They love electricity and are conductors ,so that can be the reason they can live through
please follow we if you can I have wrote a post on smiling you might enjoy
https://steemit.com/life/@writemore/smile-you-on-steemit

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70
  ·  7 days ago

A smile a day keeps the doc away, right? Thanks! Will have a look

42
  ·  8 days ago

Interesting and informative.
Now all I need is a thick carapace and I can go into the forbidden zone!
Let's resteem this!

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70
  ·  8 days ago

Can you make it a Steem carapace? Would love to see it! But I highly recommend to not go to any forbidden zones

52
  ·  7 days ago

Let's next time think twice before stomping innocent Cockroaches outside. Awesome blog post! Very informative thanks :)

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70
  ·  7 days ago

Wow! Bro you are back to Steemit. THIS IS AWESOME!

44
  ·  7 days ago

This post is going to the moon! Yo bro. You seeing what I am seeing?

48
  ·  7 days ago

Now I know why the cockroaches will survive. Learned something new! Thank you! But is it just cockroaches which will survive or bugs in general / or other kind of bugs, too?

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70
  ·  7 days ago

I know that Scorpions should survive too. I don't have information regarding other insects. However their exoskeleton should provide good protection

56
  ·  7 days ago

Jumping on the roach-wagon! If you cant beat 'em, join 'em.

Maybe we should harness their immutability for blockchain tech.

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70
  ·  7 days ago

That's teamwork! Can you think of a nice proof of carapace concept?

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56
  ·  7 days ago

Proof of Carapace (POC) - an entomological measure used for envoking denial of peace attacks.

41
  ·  7 days ago

I have been to chernobyl, there were roaches everywhere. The villagers said the wolves are smarter than people and the lakes are filled with fish with multiple heads. I personally can believe a twoheaded fish would be smarter than a normal one. Just a little mythbusters, roaches still there!

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70
  ·  7 days ago

How was it there? I saw many history documentaries and they were all exciting.

What if the left head wants to swim to the left and the right head to the right?

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41
  ·  7 days ago

Really it is beautiful, Imagine land untouched by man for years. Nature reclaiming what is hers. Now that would be some pictures to post on here. Really amazing because everything was left exactly as it was. But I will tell you they say the radiation is almost the same as it was the day it happened. The entire area is contaminated.

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45
  ·  7 days ago

Me too, the docos are very eye opening seeing all the wild life that is still surviving there, Russia is one place I would like to visit, people I tell that to don't get that we are constantly lied to about Russia here in the west, the propaganda has been thick and fast on the mainstream news lately, they don't realize who is poking who in the war machines.

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45
  ·  7 days ago

I would think 2 heads would slow them down, easy pray compared to a streamlined one.

53
  ·  7 days ago

Wow! I had never even heard about the fact. This is a very informative post. :)

64
  ·  7 days ago

Nice post man. Even more interesting that you came up with this topic haha.

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70
  ·  7 days ago

Thanks buddy! Sometimes it's hard to explain science in a simple way but that's what I try to change with this series. Not too complicated, not too plain

36
  ·  7 days ago

Awesome post!

43
  ·  7 days ago

Great post!!! "Mother Nature is a Mad Scientist!" To quote Kramer

39
  ·  7 days ago

mind blowing awesome

50
  ·  8 days ago

Do you think we could ask them to help us with our nuclear problem? Like, pray to the cockroach gods to protect us? I had to look up the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1996. Interesting. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comprehensive_Nuclear-Test-Ban_Treaty

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70
  ·  7 days ago

Could you please ask them and tell us what they say?

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50
  ·  7 days ago

lol, I will give it a try and report back...going to have to follow you now...

31
  ·  7 days ago

Post was very interesting. I really enjoyed reading. Crazy to think that they can survive.

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31
  ·  7 days ago

Also does anybody else think about Men in Black?

46
  ·  7 days ago

sad and yet funny in a weird way

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70
  ·  7 days ago

Sometimes that's how reality is. But as a Steemian you have more fun

45
  ·  8 days ago

Niceeeeee! Really informative

40
  ·  7 days ago

Love the detail. Interestingly, Cockroaches aren't even among the top contenders to best survive a nuclear holocaust.

So, humans will die off at about 4-10 radiation units (GY).
Cockroaches? between 100-9,000!!
Tardigrade (water bear)? - 5,000
Some bacteria? 15,000
Archaea? 30,000

There's something to be said for the little guys...

48
  ·  8 days ago

nicely done 😀 keep up the good work

42
  ·  7 days ago

All these comments got me thinking of Joe's Apartment

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70
  ·  7 days ago

Poor Joe! How's he doing?

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44
  ·  7 days ago

You better not be talking about my brother Joe ;)

48
  ·  7 days ago

wow cockroaches is realy hard to kill 😂 nice post btw😉 keep up the good work

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70
  ·  7 days ago

They are harmless :)

40
  ·  8 days ago

Interesting Interesting Interesting!!

44
  ·  7 days ago

Love this story

63
  ·  8 days ago

Great post! Exited for the next part ;)

49
  ·  8 days ago

So Fallout wans't entirely wrong after all.

Also, great post! Following you right now.

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70
  ·  8 days ago

I want a Pipboy now

64
  ·  7 days ago

well, that's a post!

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70
  ·  7 days ago

Thanks bro <3

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64
  ·  7 days ago

you're welcome :)

31
  ·  7 days ago

Very insightful. It makes me think of when I was a kid and used to imagine giant cockroaches taking over the planet.

31
  ·  7 days ago

If we could actually learn from cockroaches we could adapt to nuclear radiation, using their material.

66
  ·  7 days ago

very informative post.
I wrote more or less about the same here:
https://steemit.com/science/@rmach/useless-information-47-conan-the-bacterium

51
  ·  6 days ago

Great post!

50
  ·  7 days ago

Congratulations @timsaid! You have completed some achievement on Steemit and have been rewarded with new badge(s) :

Your post got the highest payout on one day

Click on any badge to view your own Board of Honnor on SteemitBoard.
For more information about SteemitBoard, click here

If you no longer want to receive notifications, reply to this comment with the word STOP

If you want to support the SteemitBoard project, your upvote for this notification is welcome!

41
  ·  6 days ago

Genuinely interesting post, Thanks for the great information.

50
  ·  6 days ago

Woah. Just BLEW my mind! Kinda like when Anakin Skywalker blew up the deathstar... but less firer... equally cosmic. Thanks so much for sharing!!!

36
  ·  6 days ago

Am I the only one who skipped over all the technical jargon to get to the answer at the end? Yeah yeah,...I know. I'm a slacker. I know I'm not the only one.....

54
  ·  6 days ago

damn that was a golden cockroach made you 878$ ! well done :))

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70
  ·  5 days ago

The ockroach told me to build a Steem Vault. But I will use it more wisely and upvote more people. Thanks!

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54
  ·  5 days ago

This specific cockroach seems to be from future also !

57
  ·  7 days ago

great post~~~^^*

50
  ·  7 days ago

i am quite surprise that cockroaches have this kind of survival capabilities and how their protective wings can protect them from radiation. But could these cockroaches die from at least the force of blast?? I think they are small enough to be eradicated. Anyway, such a great post. Thanks for sharing

30
  ·  7 days ago

I can survive aswell😂👍

37
  ·  7 days ago

Interesting.. Thanks

40
  ·  6 days ago

The only other things to survive nuclear radiation? Keith Richards and Hostess Twinkies.

50
  ·  6 days ago

Wow crackin article!

40
  ·  6 days ago

Yet they die if sprayed with Cedar Oil. So if Cockroaches took over the Earth and we had but 1 hope, we should create a Cedar Oil Bomb like a nuclear bomb.

70
  ·  6 days ago

If Tim said that cockroach can survive a nuclear catastrophe, then it must be true xD
Cheers!

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70
  ·  6 days ago

Haha dude :D

42
  ·  7 days ago

Cockroaches are by far the oldest beings on planet, even before dinosaurs... so i guess they have something that we dont when it comes to survival... ;)

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70
  ·  7 days ago

In fact humans are also pretty high in the survival ranking since they can build vaults

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42
  ·  7 days ago

Hahahaha... good one... alot of elites are making bunkers, whats the reason??? ;)

35
  ·  7 days ago

Nice post man..for me personally i hate cockroach, but i wont kill it without good reason..But after reading this article, i was thinking if cockroach can survive from nuclear catastrophe, then human should be even stronger because human can kill cockroach with just a single finger..lol just kidding.
Anyway its a great and very informative post. Good Job!!

37
  ·  7 days ago

this post is very intersting....very nice.i like this post.

52
  ·  7 days ago

Real Scientist. I am proud to be one.

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70
  ·  7 days ago

Steemit needs you :)

45
  ·  7 days ago

There's a lot in here..
Gotta read that long.. Haha

25
  ·  7 days ago

Wow , great post , but still hard to believe

61
  ·  7 days ago

Damn it! They are invincible!

30
  ·  7 days ago

They are difficult to kill, but I think they get a bad wrap. Harmless in my opinion (Don't want them in my house though) ;-)

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70
  ·  7 days ago

I agree. Wouldn't kill them since they are harmless. Just throw them out lol

48
  ·  7 days ago

very decent post,I come for you pleas come to me .....
#

FOLLOW ME @marzukibrain


46
  ·  7 days ago

I always thought that roaches can survive the most harsh conditions. It is said that a cockroach can live for 1 week, even after it's head being chopped. Dies after that due to hunger. So I think it can survive the radiation also. First few (maybe hundreds) generations may not be full able to survive the radiation, but then slowly they will become immune to it. Like they have become immune to most pest control chemicals. Maybe even humans can survive the radiation. After all the law of evolution applies to all organisms on Earth, I guess.

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70
  ·  7 days ago

It's true that they can survive without their head. Since they don't have only one primary brain but several, each with specific functions

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46
  ·  7 days ago

Really? Several brains!!! You seem to be an expert in biology!!!

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70
  ·  7 days ago

Their neuronal system is pretty decentralised

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46
  ·  7 days ago

Oh, just like our Steem!!!

52
  ·  7 days ago

We can finally put that myth to bed. A cockroach can survive nuclear radiation. Nuclear blast, not so much.

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70
  ·  7 days ago

I doubt there is anything that would survive a direct hit

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52
  ·  7 days ago

The tardigrade accepts your challenge!!

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46
  ·  7 days ago

LOL ya he is so much more stronger than the roaches!!!

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70
  ·  7 days ago

Ewww.... This dude looks evil

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52
  ·  7 days ago

Evil is his middle name.. indestructible is his first

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70
  ·  7 days ago

Indestructible Evil! What a great name

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35
  ·  7 days ago

At first I thought this is vacuum cleaner bag :) weird

52
  ·  7 days ago

Real science nice to follow you

45
  ·  7 days ago

This is indeed a brilliant article. But I just killed one yesterday.

47
  ·  7 days ago

Nice post ;) follow u

49
  ·  7 days ago

Very informative! :D

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70
  ·  7 days ago

Thanks mate!

40
  ·  7 days ago

Very nice ... good.

35
  ·  7 days ago

"Luckily all nuclear states signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 1996 which made them stop testing nuclear weapons on our earth. Unfortunately there are few countries that still drop these bombs for testing" Well, Fukushima nuclear accident (Japan) is still causing enormous leaking of radioactive material into Pacific ocean. And what paper was signed by all nuclear states to save the ocean?

45
  ·  6 days ago

Very nice 🙈

56
  ·  6 days ago

You son of a bitch, keep up the good work! Hope to see you soon again :)

44
  ·  8 days ago

It is amaing that an article about the life of a bug and make the #1 spot on trending. Look at this community go!

This is another Type of bug that would survive. We call it the VW!!!

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70
  ·  8 days ago

Looks like a Monster Bug!

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44
  ·  8 days ago

Yes, but they don't repopulate very fast. That's the down side.

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45
  ·  7 days ago

may be not a bad thing with the battery next to the gas tank in some of them nice fire to keep you warm after you crash them, nice rig, I enjoy watching them on y t

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44
  ·  7 days ago

VW for life!

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45
  ·  7 days ago

they do have some very good points, like being able to run on one cylinder and only 3 wheels if you ballast correctly, but still not on the top of my car to get list :)

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25
  ·  7 days ago

My bug will survive!

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70
  ·  5 days ago

I hope so!

31
  ·  8 days ago

Cockroaches will out live the politicians, knowing our Luck.

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45
  ·  7 days ago

Good I would rather have the company of a higher life form like a roach any way :)