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Scientist Finds Fungus That Eats Through Compact Discs

First there was the computer virus. Now scientists have found a fungus that eats compact discs.

Victor Cardenes, of Spain’s leading scientific research body, stumbled across the microscopic creature two years ago, while visiting Belize. Friends complained that in the hot and sticky Central American climate, a CD had stopped working and had developed an odd discoloration that left parts of it virtually transparent.

Dr. Cardenes and colleagues at the Superior Council for Scientific Research in Madrid discovered a fungus was steadily eating through the supposedly indestructible disc. The fungus had burrowed into the CD from the outer edge, then devoured the thin aluminium layer and some of the data-storing polycarbonate resin.

Dr. Cardenes said, “It completely destroys the aluminium. It leaves nothing behind.” Biologists at the council had never seen this fungus, but concluded that it belonged to a common genus called geotrichum.

Philips, the Dutch electronics company that invented the compact disc, said it believed the Belize case was probably a freak incident caused by extreme weather conditions.

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