You can find bacteria everywhere. They're invisible to us. I've never seen a bacterium, except under a microscope. They're so small, we don't see them, but they are everywhere.
When antibiotics became industrially produced following World War II, our quality of life and our longevity improved enormously. No one thought bacteria were going to become resistant.
We mostly don't get sick. Most often, bacteria are keeping us well.
When antibiotics first came out, nobody could have imagined we'd have the resistance problem we face today. We didn't give bacteria credit for being able to change and adapt so fast.
We've all been sick; we're all afraid of infection. I think the easiest application to help people understand what quorum sensing is and why it's important to study is to tell them that if we could make the bacteria either deaf or mute, we could create new antibiotics.
I think being open-minded about what Nature is trying to tell you is the key to being creative and successful.
What's great about bacteria is you have a surprise every day waiting for you because they're so fast, they grow overnight.
By weight, you are more human than bacteria, because your cells are bigger, but by numbers, it's not even close.
I called up and said, 'Dad, I won a MacArthur.' My father goes: 'I always thought your sister would win that,' and I said, 'Dad, just say congratulations and keep your private thoughts private.' At that point he laughed, then burst into tears, and it was obvious that he was so happy and proud.
In my lab, we are always thinking about how cells, bacterial cells, can talk to each other and then organize themselves into enormous groups that function in unison.
Science is difficult and slow no matter who you are. The hours are long, and the glorious 'aha' days come only very infrequently. You have to keep believing that if you put in the hours, those days will indeed come!
Think about multicellularity on this Earth. Every living thing originally came from bacteria. So, who do you think made up the rules for how to perform collective behaviors? It had to be the bacteria.
So, okay, I'm not a genius. Vincent Van Gogh and Albert Einstein were geniuses.
All these bacteria that coat our skin and live in our intestines, they fend off bad bacteria. They protect us. And you can't even digest your food without the bacteria that are in your gut. They have enzymes and proteins that allow you to metabolize foods you eat.
Bacteria mineralized the rocks; they deposited the iron. They made the geology we see.
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